MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – Wisconsin's unemployment rate hit 14.1% in April, a level not seen since the Great Depression, the state Department of Workforce Development reported Thursday.
The rate quadrupled from 3.1% in March, reflecting national trends due to the coronavirus pandemic, and was just below the national unemployment rate of 14.7%. April was the first full month of Wisconsin's "home safety,quot; order issued by Governor Tony Evers in reaction to COVID-19 that forced most non-essential businesses to close.
Unemployment never reached this level, even during the Great Recession in 2008 or the recession in the 1970s, said Dennis Winters, the state's chief economist. The last time it was that high was during the Great Depression in the 1930s, when unemployment was around 25%, he said.
"This is a totally different phenomenon in its severity and how quickly it occurred," Winters said. "The economy has suffered a pretty severe hit very quickly."
While unemployment has skyrocketed, so have critics of Republicans about the speed of processing benefit applications. As of Monday, more than 2 million claims have been filed weekly since March 15, but more than 675,000 have not yet been paid. Republican lawmakers have urged Evers to quickly expand Workforce Development staff and hours to process claims.
State officials say they are working hard to process the claims in the face of an unprecedented lawsuit. There were more than 4.2 million calls to the unemployment division last week alone.
Evers told reporters Thursday afternoon that most of the plaintiffs receive their checks but that the system is not "foolproof."
"We are doing the best we can," said the governor.
Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered the end of the stay-at-home order, resulting in a patchwork of local ordinances that govern when businesses can reopen. Some companies have moved faster than others to resume operations and hire people.
"Today's report shows the significant impact the global COVID-19 pandemic has had on the Wisconsin economy, and underscores the importance of rationally and safely reopening our state," said Caleb Frostman, secretary of the Department of Development for the state Workforce, in a statement. .
Wisconsin lost nearly 386,000 private sector jobs from March to April, according to the latest report. Compared to the previous year, Wisconsin lost nearly 402,000 private sector jobs.
Temporary unemployment assistance applications in Wisconsin declined during the week ending May 16, as the US economy. USA It bore the brunt of growing virus fears, according to a statement released Thursday by the US Employment and Training Administration. USA Requests fell to 31,314, a 19% decrease from the previous week.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Evers announced that it would commit $ 100 million of funds from the federal coronavirus relief bill to long-term care facilities and emergency medical service providers.
The announcement came hours after Republican House Majority Leader Jim Steineke accused Evers of failing to help such facilities as they fight to protect residents and staff from the virus. As of Wednesday, public health officials had launched 165 investigations into infections in long-term care facilities. The average number of cases per investigation is eight, according to the state department of health.
"Unfortunately, the needs of these (facility) workers, who protect the most vulnerable communities, appear to have been ignored by his administration," Steineke said.
Evers has promised that each resident and worker in Wisconsin's 373 nursing homes will receive a free coronavirus test as part of a plan to expand the test to everyone in need, up to 85,000 people per week.
The governor questioned the idea that the state has done nothing for them, but did not provide updates on the progress of those tests. He emphasized that his administration recognizes the burden that long-term care providers face. Her attorney, Ryan Nilsestuen, said any state funding would have to come from Republican lawmakers.
As of Thursday, Wisconsin had recorded 13,885 coronavirus infections and 487 deaths, according to the state Department of Health Services.
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