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Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

This week's initial jobless claims report marked a sobering milestone — it was the 52nd straight week that more than 1 million Americans filed for unemployment assistance.

Why it matters: The applications for traditional or pandemic-based unemployment benefits continue despite more than $5 trillion in dedicated government spending and $3 trillion added to the Federal Reserve's balance sheet.

What it means: Including the global financial crisis, the 1973 oil crisis, the dot-com bubble burst and every other recession since 1967, only one week prior to the pandemic — the week ending Jan. 9, 1982 — now registers on the list of top 50 worst weeks for U.S. job losses, and it ranks 49th.

  • For many weeks during the pandemic, initial jobless claims totaled more than twice what they did during the worst week of the Great Recession.

Be smart: "Despite dramatically fewer cases, COVID-19 still is inflicting painfully high layoffs, and the latest week saw an unexpected surge in state unemployment claims," Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, said in an email.

  • "State claims remain above 700,000, and combined state and federal claims remain above 1 million, as they have since the economy crashed one year ago."

Yes, but: Excluding applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, numbers have been below 1 million since August, with the exception of one week in late January.

Yes, but, but: PUA is not the first recession-era jobless program. Following the Great Recession in 2008, Congress created similar programs through the Workforce Investment Act.

  • In fact, Congress enacted additional temporary unemployment programs in response to recessions in 1971, 1974, 1982, 1991, 2002 and 2008, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By the numbers: In 52 weeks, there have been more than 81 million first-time filings for jobless benefits.

  • There were 18.2 million people receiving some form of unemployment assistance in the U.S. as of Feb. 27.
  • A year prior, there were 2 million.

"This is evidence of the long-term scarring in the labor sector that, despite what is going to be a booming economy over the next two to three years, will not be repaired anytime soon and requires sustained policy attention," Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at tax advisory firm RSM, said in a note to clients.

On the bright side: "[A]s businesses reopen and vaccinations continue at an accelerating rate, we can expect steep drops in claims this spring," Frick said.

Go deeper

Study: Social media giants failing to remove most antisemitic posts

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking virtually during a March House Energy and Commerce Subcommittees hearing on a laptop computer in Tiskilwa, Illinois. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Five social media giants failed to remove 84% of antisemitic posts in May and June — and Facebook performed the worst despite announcing new rules to tackle the problem, a new report finds.

Driving the news: The Center for Countering Digital Hatred (CCDH) notes in its study that it reported 714 posts containing "anti-Jewish hatred" to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and TikTok — which were collectively viewed 7.3 million times. These "clearly violated" company policies, according to the CCDH.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard: "It gets better"

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics. Ina Fried/Axios

Laurel Hubbard, speaking to reporters after becoming the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics, on Tuesday expressed gratitude for the opportunity to compete as an athlete and convince transgender people to work through adversity.

What she's saying: "All I have ever really wanted as an athlete is just to be regarded as an athlete," Hubbard, said in response to a question from Axios. "I suppose the thing I have been so grateful here in Tokyo is just being given those opportunities to just go through life as any other athlete."

Amazon may have violated law in Alabama warehouse vote, NLRB says

The Amazon BHM1 fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, should hold a new election to determine whether to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the National Labor Relations Board said in a preliminary finding Monday.

Details: The e-commerce giant may have illegally interfered in a mail-in election tallied in April on whether workers at the plant should unionize, per a statement from an NLRB hearing officer assigned to the case. Amazon said it would appeal any ruling stipulating that a second vote should take place.