Since March 21, 57.4 million Americans have filed initial unemployment claims as of the last week of August 2020.
Filing for unemployment means when someone in the U.S. makes an official request after they have lost their job for money from the government. Jobless claims had totaled above 1 million for 20 consecutive weeks as the U.S. economy went into lockdown to contain COVID-19 in March. The last time the total was below that number was March 14, with 282,000 unemployment claims, just as the pandemic declaration first hit. The Center for Independent Studies puts the unemployment rate at 7.1 percent, the worst in 19 years. The rate is well above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5 percent, which was the lowest in 50 years.