Virus Outbreak California

Unionized hospitality workers wait in line in a basement garage to apply for unemployment benefits at the Hospitality Training Academy Friday, March 13, 2020, in Los Angeles.

(The Center Square) – An additional 533,568 Californians filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending April 18, the most in the U.S. and continuing a five-week trend of businesses laying off workers because of stay-at-home orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While state and national officials are talking about the possibilities of reopening the economy once the novel coronavirus abates, the impact of the shutdown of all but essential businesses continues to be reflected in the latest unemployment data.

California's new claims were down from the week ending April 11, when 655,472 filed for unemployment benefits. But the five week total means more than 3 million of the state's residents lost their jobs since Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order closed businesses deemed nonessential.

National claims also continued to be well above historical norms, with 4.4 million claims filed across the United States. West Virginia had the biggest jump in new claims from the prior week with a 209 percent increase.

"The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 11.0 percent for the week ending April 11, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from the previous week's unrevised rate," a news release from the Department of Labor stated. "This marks the highest level of the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate in the history of the seasonally adjusted series."

Another relief package expected to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday will provide more funding for small businesses that have been particularly hard-hit by the economic pause. The legislation has already been passed by the U.S. Senate and is expected to quickly be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at

Executive Editor

Dan McCaleb is a veteran editor and has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. Most recently, McCaleb served as editorial director of Shaw Media and the top editor of the award-winning Northwest Herald in suburban Chicago.