Jobless growth slows, but still staggering: U.S. adds 4.4 million in initial unemployment claims; Washington up 90,000.

Another grim week for unemployment insurance claims. The U.S. Department of Labor reports,

In the week ending April 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 4,427,000, a decrease of 810,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 8,000 from 5,245,000 to 5,237,000. The 4-week moving average was 5,786,500, an increase of 280,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 2,000 from 5,508,500 to 5,506,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 11.0 percent for the week ending April 11, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from the previous week’s unrevised rate. This marks the highest level of the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate in the history of the seasonally adjusted series.

The Associated Press reports,

Roughly 26 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the five weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors. About one in six American workers have lost their jobs in the past five weeks, by far the worst string of layoffs on record. That’s more than the number of people who live in the 10 largest U.S. cities combined.

Economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20%.

In our state, Paul Roberts reports in The Seattle Times, the numbers dropped from the previous week, but remain at record highs.

Washington state received nearly 90,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance last week, a significant decline from the prior week–but state officials have warned that the worst is not over.

For the week ending April 18, Washington residents filed 89,105 initial claims for unemployment insurance, which represented a decline of 38% from the prior week, according to figures released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor…

Still, the new figures bring Washington’s total number of jobless claims since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to nearly 700,000, which is about twice the peak recorded during the Great Recession, according to the state Employment Security Department. The state agency will release its own figures for joblessness later in the day.

We expect the state’s figures will confirm the trend.