Just over 104,500 North Carolina workers filed for unemployment last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s initial jobless claims report. The number is down sharply from the week prior, when more than 140,000 workers sought benefits, and the week before that, when more than 137,000 did. 

From mid-March, when Governor Cooper closed bars and restaurants, to April 18, about 650,000 workers filed for unemployment—13 percent of the state’s workforce as of February, not counting the 3.6 percent who were already unemployed as well as those who do not qualify for benefits or who have been unable to file because of difficulties navigating the often-overwhelmed Division of Employment Security system. 

North Carolina has awarded benefits to more than 463,000 workers, according to the DOL report, a gain of 100,000 from the week before. 

Starting tomorrow, North Carolina will begin processing federal $600-a-week benefits for independent contractors and gig workers who cannot file for unemployment under state rules. 

Nationwide, there was a decline in new unemployment filings as well, from more than 5.2 million last week to about 4.4 million this week. That improvement, however, is relative. For comparison, this week last year saw just 203,000 initial jobless claims. Since mid-March, the U.S. has lost more than 26 million jobs, more than all the jobs gained in the recovery from the Great Recession.  

Per The Washington Post

Meanwhile, consumer spending, the engine behind the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, has evaporated. If they’re still operating, offices are working with skeleton staffs and staring down months of dismal revenue. … 

Hopes for a sharp economic rebound are fading, overtaken by the public fear of going back to restaurants, movie theaters, schools, and gym classes. The growing possibility of a “W”-shaped recovery—in which a resurgence of the virus, or a spike in defaults and bankruptcies, triggers another downturn—has analysts reframing what a reopened or rehabilitated economy might look like.

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at jbillman@indyweek.com. 

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