Apr 2, 2020 - Economy & Business

The coronavirus unemployment numbers in perspective

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Over the past two weeks, 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment, with millions more to come.

Why it matters: The jobless hits right now are like a natural disaster hitting every state at the same time.

Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,800 people and cost an estimated $161 billion in current dollars, making it the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, Axios' Bryan Walsh reports.

  • But those affected could find safety and aid outside the disaster area, and America's economy barely experienced a blip.

The big picture: In America, losing your job isn't just losing a paycheck — for many, it also means losing your health insurance.

  • About 3.5 million Americans have likely lost their health insurance because of job loss in the last two weeks, Axios' Bob Herman reported, citing the Economic Policy Institute.
  • Medicaid will serve as the major backstop, but its ballooning usage will strain state budgets. It also won't be a primary option for residents of the 14 states that didn't expand the program under the Affordable Care Act, and those people instead will hope to qualify for low-cost ACA plans, Bob notes.

The bottom line: The crush of applications is so bad that some states aren't able to keep up.

  • Florida's "unemployment website is essentially broken, dogged by longstanding glitches and a crush of people thrown out of work because of the coronavirus," the Tampa Bay Times reports.
  • "[T]he office received 1.5 million calls in the last week, with a third of them coming from Floridians looking to reset their PIN numbers. The PINs are required to log in to the site."
  • The program's director apologized today and said the department will revert to paper applications.

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day — prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse even as curfews set in Washington, D.C., and New York City, where Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) announced late Tuesday that she's headed for Manhattan Bridge following reports of police kettling in protesters. "This is dangerous," she tweeted.

Primary elections test impact of protests, coronavirus on voting

Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic and national protests over the death of George Floyd, eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Iowa Rep. Steve King defeated in GOP primary

Rep. Steve King. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated incumbent Rep. Steve King in Tuesday's Republican primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district, according to the Cook Political Report.

Why it matters: King's history of racist remarks has made him one of the most controversial politicians in the country and a pariah within the Republican Party.