The Trump administration is asking state labor officials to delay releasing the number of unemployment claims they’re fielding

The Trump administration is asking state labor officials to delay releasing the precise number of unemployment claims they are fielding, an indication of how uneasy policymakers are about further roiling a stock market already plunging in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Goldman Sachs warns data point to a historic and frankly apocalyptic surge in unemployment insurance claims, from current 281,000 to 2,250,000 in next week’s report. Yes, you read that right.

In an email sent Wednesday, the Labor Department instructed state officials to only “provide information using generalities to describe claims levels (very high, large increase)” until the department releases the total number of national claims next Thursday.

Some states that received the guidance found it disturbing. It prompted at least one governor’s office, which shared the message on the condition of anonymity, to seek an opinion from the state attorney general about whether they had to temporarily withhold the information.

Known locations of coronavirus cases by county. Circles are sized by the number of people there who have tested positive, which may differ from where they contracted the illness. Some people who traveled overseas were taken for treatment in California, Nebraska and Texas. Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories are not shown. Sources: State and local health agencies, hospitals, C.D.C. Data as of 6:51 p.m. E.T., Mar. 19.

In another state, lawmakers got a preview of the staggering numbers that are being withheld for the moment.

Robert O’Brien, the state’s deputy secretary of labor and industry, said the government had been overwhelmed by a flood of unemployment insurance claims — 180,000 just in the last few days. He said that was far more than the state usually gets in a whole month. 

The situation may be even more dire in Washington, the first epicenter of the contagion in the U.S. State officials there would only say they are seeing an “even more dramatic increase this week” after unemployment claims soared 150 percent last week from the week before.

The federal numbers released Thursday morning were already alarming: 281,000 people nationwide applied for unemployment insurance last week, up from 211,000 the previous week. They were apparently only a grim preview of what is to come.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s