Record Levels of US Unemployment and the Health Impacts of Poverty and Job Loss

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 4 was 11,976,000, an increase of 4,530,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment in the history of the seasonally adjusted series.

22 million have filed for unemployment. The number working or seeking work in January was almost 165 million and there were 5.9 million looking for work in January. We are now up to about 27.9 people who are not working but not all are officially insured unemployed.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 8.2 percent for the week ending April 4, an increase of 3.1 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 previous high was 7.0 percent in May of 1975.

US unemployment during the Great Depression reached 24 percent.

1% increase in unemployment rate is associated with a 3.3% increase in drug overdose deaths and a 0.78% increase in suicides. There is also increased alcohol abuse.

The suicide rate rose from about 12 per 100,000 before the Depression to a record high of 21.9 per 100,000 people in 1932, in the depth of the Great Depression. The US suicide rate was already at about 14-15 per 100,000 before the coronavirus. The US could see an increase in suicides of about 20,000-50,000.

The increase in drug and alcohol deaths could be double to triple suicide deaths.

SOURCES- Dept of Labor, Psychology Today
Written by Brian Wang,

56 thoughts on “Record Levels of US Unemployment and the Health Impacts of Poverty and Job Loss”

  1. Re masks the SO is stage 4 cancer patient with regular chemo and a dubious immune system. SO has been wearing masks in crowds since before it was fashion. As explained by Dr the mask can’t stop all particles but in case of tiny droplets containing thousands of virions the masks minimises the incoming dose, and the dosing is important. Immune system can take on say 700 particles even in cancer patient, but go to 2500, too many. It appears the dosing is important for covid, note that 10-20% of patients in some states are health care workers, all of whom are getting constant stream of microdoses.

  2. …problem is best addressed by running the COBOL source through a commercial conversion package to translate it to a modern and well supported language…

    Only if you enjoy pain, just bug fix while never adding “new things” to to old code. There are much better ways to deal with new features to legacy systems. And god created middleware & microservices.

  3. We should just protect our elderly. It’s quite simple really. “Closing the country” is nonsense, worst idea I’ve ever seen.

  4. I think the masks ought to be limited use. When I see people on the sidewalk with masks on I think they look like fools. You’d have to cough in someone’s direction out on the street. It makes sense to wear a mask on mass transit however. I think they should put a lot more energy into making mass transit less of a bio-reactor.

    I don’t think the personal protective equipment works well without training and commitment to using it correctly, it is most useful in the hospitals and restaurants and things like that.

    I’d also point out that in California there were/are the strictest lockdowns and things here haven’t been nearly as bad as they predicted. When you compare with NYC it doesn’t make sense. I think there should have been an explosion of cases in SF and LA, but there was nothing, which indicates earlier spread and a lot of missing data. In any case I don’t see any evidence that the lockdowns worked, pointing out that the casualties were far less than expected doesn’t really say much, the models seem to be off.

  5. I think you’re just wrong, you’re a populist hipster type that thinks anything with a “science” label is somehow irrefutable evidence. It was a faulty model. If we’d had more accurate assessments we wouldn’t be here. It is already clear from looking at the data that the lockdowns accomplished nothing. It was foolish. We would be better off letting the healthy young people go about their lives. All it takes is one lousy governor like Gavin Newsom to lead the charge for all of the other lemming governors. They’re just people like you or I, not superheroes.

  6. Sorry Anthropic that’s changing the metric. The common flu fatality rate is measured under the same metric of CONFIRMED Case Fatality Ratio. You can’t argue away corona virus’s seriousness by guesstimating how many undiagnosed cases there might be when the flu has exactly the same metric. The flu is 0.1% on the CONFIRMED CFR, the Corona Virus is 10 to 30 times worse than that, and even higher in some countries.
    It also doesn’t appear to give good herd immunity and has reinfected people two or three times.
    Again, Australia implemented early restrictions and so far we only have 2 deaths per million people, America has 117 and looks ready to embrace a full 10,000 per million if you completely ignore common sense!

  7. Sorry, that’s 0.1 to 0.2 per hundred. 100 to 200 per 100,000. About like a bad seasonal flu year, but then we don’t shut down the entire country during seasonal flu.

  8. Considering how much we are undercounting infections, as shown by recent Santa Clara study, the real death rate from corona is much closer to 0.1 or 0.2 per thousand. That’s 10 to 20 per 100,000. You are using outdated numbers that we now know are off by orders of magnitude. Good for polemics, bad for decision making.

  9. Wrap your head around this one fact. We don’t know if we can become immune to CORVID-19. And if we can become immune we don’t know how long it would last. So, those advocating herd immunity, do know we could sacrifice millions for nothing, for nought.

    Based on what we know, the most prudent thing to do is to minimize deaths while we work to find solutions.

    As for reopening the economy, the fastest way to do so is to reduce the death rate.

  10. Rubbish – you HAVE TO shut it all down for weeks and weeks yet and go for elimination, because there IS NO HERD IMMUNITY! Look it up! WHO have declared they can’t find any evidence of herd immunity. I really don’t know what’s wrong with America: Australia’s going for elimination and we only have 2 deaths per million people. You’re at 117 deaths per million already, and climbing FAST and yet you’re so worried that a temporary economic shutdown might impinge on your ‘rights’ or your ‘freedom’ that you guys grab guns and go out and expose yourself to the virus! It’s like growing up with a Bill of Rights brainwashes many Americans into being self-centered constitution quoting drones that can’t even think of necessary public policies in catastrophes like this situation. Personal responsibility and community needs and requirements seem like alien concepts!

  11. Happens all the time, and it’s one of the reasons nursing homes and other facilities intended for the aging are some 20% or more of the covid deaths in the US. These places pay the nursing assistants who do the work a pathetic wage (because they can, of course, it’s the same reason dogs lick their balls) and post huge absurd profits. The workers are doing the job and right now a lot are dying. Many lack proper equipment. However this doesn’t interrupt the golf game of the unproductive execs. While I (like anyone else with more than two neurons to rub together) abhor communism this is certainly an example of an “industry” that needs to have tight socialist control and oversight.

  12. The probable reason the rate is as low as it is would have more to do with social means like masks, physical distancing, washing, etc. Not lockdowns. Sweden doesn’t have a different rate than most of Europe and didn’t clobber their economy in the process. Conversely there is ZERO data showing that shutting down the economy has an effect. Given the data from Sweden and others (Nebraska for example) where lockdowns aren’t in place, the NBF post is appropriate since human psychology and so on is all part of the big mix of tech and how we use it.

  13. No, there is a max 4% death rate accounting for deaths vs known cases using limited testing (only those with fairly advanced symptoms) and the estimated infection rate is minimum of 5x of test counts; a german study showed 15% of the population was infected (more like 20x of the case count.) The likely actual death rate per 100k of infected is likely to be 10x to 20x lower than reported now. Still worse than the flu of course but not quite the apocalyptic nightmare the screamers would have us believe.

  14. Your thesis is contradicted by the facts.

    I’m pretty sure the history of politics over the past several millennia is mostly about very successfully taking from the productive and giving to the unproductive.

  15. As long as NBF is being accused of supporting China and the USA and Elon Musk and Israel and being too individualistic and being too collectivistic and being too political and being too technology focused and ignoring politics…. all in the same couple of months… then I think the balance is pretty good.

  16. It’s the internet.
    Everyone is a viral epidemiologist, a political economist, military strategist and usually also a weight loss consultant in our spare time.

  17. At this point we are delving into degrees of responsibility.

    How much effort must you go to to avoid something before you can’t be considered to have “chosen” it?

    Likewise, to what point is being a drug addict who blots out life for hours at a time, knowing that any one could be permanent, become classified as a form of slow suicide anyway. Or at least “self-slaughter” in the same way that doing something likely to kill someone else, that eventually does, is considered “manslaughter” if not full on murder.

  18. I take it farther if I was trump.
    You want to play with your boats, fine but we have an kill circle who we increased 🙂
    And yes Iran
    might want to discus this with Japan who became an major player after an US occupation 🙂

  19. Thsi, problably end op as an acocolic ater this.
    An Corona extra with breckfast might help.
    It verified it make it mosre fun 🙂

  20. We are not closing the country to save young people. The virus deaths are manageable for people under 40. We are closing the country to protect our elderly. If we are willing to have mass casualties in people over 50 years old, by all means open the country early.

  21. Good news, food is plentiful and cheap just in time for all the newly unemployed.

    After weeks of consumer hoarding, panic buying is abating and the lack of demand from shuttered restaurants, schools and coffee shops is starting to set in. Sanderson Farms Inc., the U.S.’s third-largest chicken producer, is slowing production at plants that supply restaurants, and protein giant Cargill Inc. has idled an egg facility due to the lack of demand from the food services industry.Americans spend more than half of their food budget eating out, and an increase in retail among grocery stores can’t fully compensate for the lack of demand from restaurants. Every 10% decline in out-of-home food spending translates into a gain of just 3% in the retail channel, according to Rabobank, one of the largest lenders to the food and agriculture industry. Nowhere is the effect of restaurant shutdowns more obvious than in the dairy industry, with almost 50% of American cheese production going to food services. Farmers in top-producing Wisconsin are being asked to dump milk to boost low prices with overall demand for dairy products expected to drop 10% to 15% in the second quarter, according to Mary Ledman, a global diary strategist at Rabobank.

  22. Abandon hope Ye who read beyond here:
    “…This MARCH graph shows the number of states (and D.C.) with unemployment rates at or above certain levels since January 1976. At the worst of the great recession, there were 11 states with an unemployment rate at or above 11% (red).
    Currently 4 states and D.C. have an unemployment rate at or above 6% (dark blue). These are D.C., Louisiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
    In April, most, if not all, states will have unemployment rates well above 10%…”
    How long will it last and when will we ‘normalize’.

  23. You are right! The whole world is distracted with Covid. Time to wipe Iran off the map. No one will miss.

  24. Nobody is saying to “let it rip”.

    Multiple people are saying “let it rip”. Often in that exact phrase. On this very forum.

  25. The problem comes when you want to modify the software to do new things, and you can’t find COBOL programmers.

    This problem is best addressed by running the COBOL source through a commercial conversion package to translate it to a modern and well supported language, followed by testing and review and some careful updating of the new code base.

    It may not be feasible to do this in the middle of making emergency changes as they need to now. But it is what should have been done long ago when it wasn’t a crisis. Just another example of how we’ve let things slide until they create an unnecessary crisis that costs far more than good maintenance would have cost in the first place.

  26. Nobody is saying to “let it rip”. But there is a middle ground between “letting it rip” and keeping everything shut down for months on end. Herd immunity effects can start to curb spread rates with as little as 3-5% of the pop infected, and places like NY are probably already there, counting the untested positives.

    1-3k is overstated since that doesn’t count the untested positives that would increase your denominator. Other incidences of sample populations that were 100% tested indicated fatality rates as low as 0.66%.

    Even if 1-3k were accurate, it’s not like you can apply that rate to the entire 330million people in the country, as spread-rate varies inversely with cumulative infections. Once the infected % reaches a certain number, it can’t infect enough people to perpetuate itself in the population. Then it will fizzle out. How many years will it take a depression to fizzle out?

  27. For the US, after the Great Depression came the New Deal. With a similar economic stall occurring, will we see substantial changes to government and society on the level of the New Deal or greater? It’s starting to sound increasingly like US citizens will be provided a monthly payment to cover most of their expenses during the pandemic, but for all functional purposes isn’t that giving everyone a taste of UBI?

    There is talk of $2K monthly for the duration of the emergency. Lets say for rough scaling purposes, a person was working 40hours/week for 52 weeks at a wage of $15/hr (a proposed minimum wage in some areas of the country). That’s roughly $2600/month. One can see that $2K is within spitting distance as far as a functional UBI payment.

    Though some may argue UBI is a form of “voting themselves bread and circuses” if sufficient protections are not in place to secure the revenue to underwrite such an entitlement. Yang gang supporters will rightly point out UBI has to be backed by an alternative tax regime and something similar to a sovereign fund to cover the expense. There is also the commensurate issue of universal healthcare, and to a lesser extent some means to guarantee a right to work (akin to the Works Administration) as people need purpose/motivation (the so called dignity/pride of work, more like the social instinct of tribal belonging).

    It will be amusing if UBI comes into being before the AI job apocalypse, because a different jobs apocalypse preceded it.

  28. you got yourself an engineering degree you ain’t no engineer. That goes for people cutting code as well.

  29. Suicide: 21.9 per 100,000.
    Corona: 1000 to 3000 per 100,000 and that’s WITH a functioning health system!
    Maybe 6000 per 100,000 without a health system if America lets it rip in an exponential explosion. Is it NBF’s mission to back Trump nonsense or something?

  30. for leftists, apparently it’s not a choice. we’re supposedly all just balls of meat subconsciously exhibiting rote reactions to whatever stimulus is infront of us as dictated by our brain chemistry.

    it’s not just about suicide. that ignores the health ramifications of a trashed economy. healthcare costs money, both in equipment and labor. which means when the money dries up, healthcare will too, on some level. and that isn’t someone’s choice.

    The economy is like breathing. You can hold your breath for a little while and be ok. But that does not mean you can hold your breath indefinitely with no major effects.

  31. Well… like smoking and drug overdoses. And you could maybe argue dying in an overseas war (barring conscription).

  32. You and the few dozen existing haskellers on planet earth may think your stuff is the best, real or imagined, the world runs whatever is best for the job; 99% of the time it’s anything other than Haskell.

  33. nextbigfuture is a propaganda site. I just can’t decide if is a soft or a hard propaganda and exactly for whose benefit. Often it sounds like Chinese propaganda to my ear.

  34. I’m one of the more recent functional programming squat (haskeller) who thinks that COBOL, Java and Javascript is what’s wrong with the software industry

  35. The job loss is artificial, mostly. Coal and some oil job loss is probably more permanent. When the economy ramps back up, most of the job loss will be corrected. Though admittedly, I suspect more people may have to settle for lower pay than they were getting. Others might find their job has been automated when they try to return. Others will be asked to do 2 people’s jobs, because their employer let the other guy go.
    Some few may actually get the job they wanted, and could not find before.
    And I suspect some 60+ year-olds may decide to start retirement early rather than having to try to fix chaos at work and putting themselves at risk of catching this virus. Others with stock losses will have to return who already retired.
    But, I don’t think it is all bad news either. There are people at home right now making new products in their garage, that may be the next wave of innovation, mathematicians, discovering new math, physicists making new theories, scientists reviewing all the new literature in their fields that they haven’t kept up with…some of which will give them new ideas. Consider what happened a few hundred years ago when something similar happened:
    I just hope some of the geniuses out there are thinking deeply about how to get very high energy density batteries engineered and built cheaply.
    Though, I wouldn’t mind if they were working on powerful generalized antivirals.

  36. What’s wrong with COBOL?
    Debug the same code for 60 years and it will run fine this side of forever.

    Don’t be one of those HTML & JavaScript snobs that refer to themselves as “Engineers”.

  37. Cronavirus didn’t start from a wet market… it’s a genetically modified bat virus developed in a lab in wuhan that escaped because patient zero was bitten by one of the bats…..

  38. If you believe the powers that be than this virus should be absolutely ravaging India. Yet the official Indian stats show a downwards trend in new cases:

    I know what you’re going to say. They’re not testing enough. Yes, this is true, no arguments there. BUT just because you don’t test doesn’t mean the virus stops spreading. It would be impossible for Indians to hide the massive numbers of sick and dying. It’s been over 4 months since India reported their first official case so by now tens of millions should have contracted the virus and we should be seeing hundreds of thousands dead.

    So where are all the sick and dead?

  39. You can’t evaluate when to open-up or not open-up the economy without calculating the fatality risk factors on *all* sides. Your determination to ignore one half of the equation reveals your own confirmation bias and your own propaganda that you propagate.

    Additionally, you ignore the fact that many of the covid-19 deaths that will occur over the next 2 weeks are from people that were already infected during the shutdown, which could easily put us past the peak of the curve, regardless of whether we end the shutdown this instant. It would not be fair to attribute the deaths of that subgroup to the lifting of the shutdown. The effects of any shutdown-ending will not be felt for 2 weeks in the virus statistics.

    You are also ignoring herd immunity effects that can start to curb the spread rates with as little as 3-5% of population infected. Certain states like NY are almost certainly there or past that point if you factor the untested/asymptomatic positives.

    Herd immunity is what will suffocate the virus. Shutdowns are only useful insofar as they allow the time to increase hospital/PPE capacity and lower the spike. But in trade, they prolong the curve, so the area under the curve (total deaths) are not greatly effected.

    Unless you propose to maintain the shutdown for another 10 months until the vaccine is made. By then, the economy could be crippled so badly that the jobless-death effects are felt for many years, not just the 1 year of shutdown.

  40. well… at least US states will stop using dinosaur 1960’s COBOL and mainframe technology for the unempolyment system…

  41. Really? more of the nonsense about how we will kill ourselves more then die of the pandemic propaganda that people are repeating in a pretty sad attempt to make people think we need to open up sooner rather then later. 20-30K additional deaths….uh huh.We haven’t even seen the peak of coronovirus deaths, and we are past that from it. And the only reason its as low as it is is through the efforts made to do this, otherwise we would be looking at a LOT more dead.

    I come here for new technology, not propaganda messages. sadly this post is not reflective of what Im looking for here.

  42. What does this have to do with US unemployment?

    Also, WTF are you talking about? Is this about Iran’s speed boat run at the US Navy? I wish Big Orange Idiot would just tell them to hose them down with some .50 caliber kisses.

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