As the coronavirus pandemic continues and businesses lay off their employees, more Americans are filing claims for unemployment insurance.

An April 2 report from the U.S. Department of Labor found advance figures for seasonally adjusted initial claims in the week ending in March 28 was 6.6 million—a 100% increase over the prior week’s 3.3 million. One year ago, about 211,000 Americans filed initial claims the week ending March 30, 2019.

“Similar to last week’s unemployment claims numbers, today’s report reflects the sacrifices American workers are making for their families, neighbors and country in order to ‘slow the spread,’” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said in a statement. “The Administration continues to act quickly to address this impact on American workers.”

Scalia said this action includes a rule the department adopted April 1 regarding paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and work to increase access to enhanced unemployment benefits laid out in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed last week.

“That legislation also contains significant incentives for businesses to retain workers and continue paying them, which will put businesses and workers in a better position to resume work and re-boot the economy once the virus is contained,” Scalia said.

According to the department, an initial claim is one filed by an unemployed individual following the parting from an employer, and this statistic is a key indicator when it comes to determining the strength of the nation’s economy. Officials said in the report that states identified unemployment increases in the services industry, particularly in the accommodation and food services sector.

While all states reported an increase in initial claims the third week of March, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Massachusetts were the only states that reported more laid-off residents than Texas in the week ending March 21. Texas ranked fourth among states with the highest week-over-week increases at 139,250.

The following week, California, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan led the nation in initial claims, and Texas ranked fifth with 275,597 initial claims filed the week ending March 28. This was a 77% increase week over week for the state, which had 155,426 initial claims filed the previous week, according to USDL data.

State officials in the report cited statewide layoffs in the following industries:

  • accommodation and food services;

  • transportation and warehousing;

  • health care and social assistance;

  • administrative and support services;

  • waste management and remediation services;

  • mining;

  • retail trade;

  • manufacturing;

  • real estate and rental and leasing; and

  • construction.

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