The U.S. Department of Labor announced on Thursday that 786,942 Americans filed unemployment claims for the first time last week—more than four times the number prior to the start of the pandemic in March. Additionally, 650,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the government's program for self-employed, part-time and freelance workers. The U.S. Commerce Department also reported that personal income declined by 2.7 percent in August, which reflects the lack of the government's $600 stimulus payments, which expired at the end of July.
The Labor Department reported that the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Sept. 19 were in New York (7,893), Georgia (7,336), Massachusetts (5,186), New Jersey (5,038) and Oregon (3,251), while the largest decreases were in Maryland (2,197), Michigan (2,169), Indiana (1,543), Illinois (1,408), and Louisiana (1,340).
The news comes as U.S. companies—including United Airlines and American Airlines—announced furloughs of more than 30,000 workers, and the Walt Disney Company said that it would lay off 28,000 workers, including at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Allstate also announced that it would cut about 8 percent of its workforce, and book publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said that about 22 percent of its staff would be laid off due to restructuring.