3.84 million Americans filed first-time unemployment insurance claims last week, making it the best week ever for Donald Trump since the bottom fell out of the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic. The weekly unemployment stats released by the Department of Labor Thursday bring the "rolling total" of unemployment claims for the last six weeks to just a hair over 30 million. If a "hair" were 300,000 people.

This is so nuts we're having a difficult time conceptualizing it. Remember when the New York Times needed the entire front page to graph the first huge spike, in late March?

Image: New York Times on Twitter

That record-setting unemployment surge of 3.3 million claims was then dwarfed the very next week, with 6.9 million new claims, so imagine a front page twice as high. And another 6.6 million the week after that. Then we almost started running out of people to lay off: 5.2 million, and 4.4 million, and now another 3.8 million. Hooray! We're back down to numbers that are only a little bit higher than a graphic representation that astonished us a bit over a month ago. Donald Trump must be alternately delighted and furious that no one's giving him credit for the amazing improvement in last week's numbers.

Oh, except that in a lot of states, people still can't even get their applications filed, so the revised numbers may still be a lot worse. Florida has been flat out denying 40 percent of claims, Jesus H. Criminy. This is Great Depression stuff, and it doesn't have to be as bad as it is. We could have approached this like several European countries did, and subsidized companies to keep their workers on payroll from the start, an idea that's only at this late point getting a very little bit of traction, as long as it's framed in appropriate Luntzian bullshit.

Still, Donald Trump said Thursday that the economy is poised to come roaring back any minute now, based on a tingle in his lucky bone spurs we guess. Everything will be great by the third or fourth quarter this year, he explained:

"I'll tell you what: I feel it," Trump told New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and reporters in the Oval Office.

"And I will say I think next year is going to be a spectacular year in terms of growth, in terms of bringing our country back," he continued. "I think we are going to have a really good year."

In addition to the pricking of his perfectly normal-sized thumbs telling him that something awesome this way comes, Trump's hopes for the economy were also buoyed by several Republican governors who are "reopening" their economies — including several that never actually had stay at home orders in the first place — and declaring, without any science to back them, that workplaces are now safe. So safe, in fact, that anyone who won't go back to work is clearly an unemployment cheat who'll need to be cut off for "refusing" gainful employment. That means workers will get to choose between getting a paycheck and risking infection, an especially fun choice in states like Iowa, where there are still ongoing outbreaks at the meatpacking plants Donald Trump has ordered to remain open.

Oklahoma is even kicking around the idea of cutting all unemployment benefits because it's worried the $600/week emergency federal unemployment benefit is making minimum-wage workers a bunch of shiftless moochers, because they should be returning to three shifts a day at multiple jobs:

"If there is a claimant out there that says, 'You know what, I can make more money sitting at home, drawing this extra $600, and some other benefits, then if the employer will contact us, that is considered a refusal of civil work and we will cut off their benefits," said Teresa Thomas Keller, the deputy director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, during the call conducted over Zoom and published online. The Frontier, a Tulsa news outlet, first reported on the meeting. [...]

In response, Sean Kouplen, the state's secretary of commerce, said it was "the best news that I have heard all day," adding he had witnessed such reluctance to work firsthand. "I have a lot of companies, and we're trying to hire people back. And they're saying, 'nope, we're good, we're making plenty of money on the unemployment piece.' So I really appreciate you saying that."

Keller later added Oklahoma even could potentially stop sending residents the additional $600 per week in federal unemployment aid authorized under the Cares Act in an attempt to compel people to return to work more quickly. "If it was a huge problem, and we felt like people were taking advantage, we could cut it off," she said.

Get those damn layabouts back to the slaughterhouses so we can have cheap meat and reelect Donald Trump, damn it, and if there's another wave of Rona, well, it's not like a few tens of thousands more deaths are even a concern. Once all the shareholders see their dividends, nobody will even remember those people. Plenty should survive to vote Republican, especially if they're convinced someone's coming for their guns, Amen.

[CNBC / Vox / TPM / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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