As I’ve written in the past few weeks, the number of initial jobless claims correlates roughly with the number of net new jobs added or subtracted in any given month. Normally there is too much noise for it to be of much value, but with the huge spike in the past month, the signal will come through much more strongly.
Here’s what the crude correlation looks like between initial claims (blue, weekly) and jobs (red, monthly), in the past year through February:
After the leap is what the exact same correlation looks like since the beginning of March:
The reporting week for the April jobs number was last week. In the 4 months ending last week, over 23,000,000 new jobless claims were filed. Since about 275,000 such claims would roughly correlate with zero net new jobs, that means that we can expect that about -22,000,000 jobs were lost in April.
In March, the unemployment rate moved higher to 4.4%:
Meanwhile, the civilian labor force is about 160,000,000 people:
Subtracting 22,000,000 jobs is about a -12% decline in that number.
Add that to the existing 4.4% unemployment rate gives us a likely April unemployment rate on the order of 16.4%.
Needless to say, these are losses on the order of the Great Depression.