The state Department of Labor reports it has now received more than one million applications for unemployment benefits since mid-March.
“I think the number is shocking whenever you hear it,” said Frederick McKinney, a Quinnipiac University business professor.
“You have to remember this decline in economic activity has been the greatest decline in economic activity since the Great Depression.”
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McKinney points out the million figure includes some people who might have applied multiple times.
In a statement the Labor commissioner Kurt Westby wrote in part:
“We’ve reached a milestone no one wanted to get to…. To put these numbers in perspective, over the past seven months we’ve received more applications than we usually get in eight years.”
Right now the department says it can process applications in two to three days.
That is a big improvement from the beginning of the pandemic when there were frustratingly long delays for benefits amid a massive wave of layoffs.
One of the hardest hit areas has been in hospitality.
“With the restaurants, hotels, with anything that involves people being in close proximity with each other, bars and athletic events, schools, all of those activities pretty much came to a halt in the early stages of the pandemic,” said McKinney.
With coronavirus cases again increasing, McKinney worries another spike could lead to more job cuts.
Even if the virus is brought under control including with treatments and vaccines, there is a lot of uncertainty about the future of the economy and if some changes might become permanent.
“That means those companies that have figured out a way to do more with less will probably continue doing more with less,” said McKinney.
The state’s most recent unemployment rate in August was around eight-percent.
That’s an improvement from the previous few months.
But it’s still far from where it was before the virus struck when unemployment was below 4%.