Good News: Unemployment Claims Soar Past 6 Million This Week

This headline is not a joke. Here’s the chart showing initial unemployment claims through this week:

The Washington Post says this is a “stunning sign of an economic collapse.” EPI calls it a “portrait of disaster.” That’s nonsense. It’s a deliberately engineered temporary freeze. And one of the reasons we should be able to get through it without permanent damage is that we passed a rescue bill that vastly increases unemployment benefits. We want lots of people to apply for benefits. The more the better.

So yes, this is good news. It means that laid-off workers are applying for benefits, and nearly all of them will see no reduction in their income. In fact, many will see an increase.

Now, having said that, I’ll backtrack on my suggestion that states shouldn’t have too much trouble handling the volume of applications. I figured they could probably muddle through 3 million applications, but now we’re up to 10 million. That’s going to be a mess. Still, just knowing that help is on the way should be a huge relief for workers who have lost their jobs for the duration.

POSTSCRIPT: I will add one thing to this. The rescue bill may replace income, but it doesn’t replace lost health insurance. This is obviously a big deal, but I don’t know how big. It depends on how many laid-off workers had health coverage in the first place. It depends on how long their coverage stays in place after a layoff. It depends on how accessible COBRA is. It depends on whether you qualify for subsidies under Obamacare. There are a lot of variables here and I don’t know how they’ll all play out.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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