Unemployment hits yet another new high in California

With the nearly 3 million new unemployment claims filed this week, the U.S. now has seen 35.5 million workers file for benefits in the last 2 months. We are at the point where we must balance money and jobs with disease and death.

In California, the Labor Department numbers show that some 214,000 Californians applied for unemployment benefits last week.

That's a drop from the previous week's 320,000, but still five time more than pre-coronavirus claims. In the last two months, over 4 million Californians have lost their jobs.

"Job loss devastation, the job loss have slowed but they're continuing," said labor lawyer and former EDD Director Michael Bernick.

However, an additional 136,000 California independent contractors and sole proprietors, who do not qualify for state unemployment, filed under the Federal Pandemic Assistance program. That's apart from all the claims we've had for regular unemployment insurance," said Bernick.

On Thursday, economist Arthur Laffer, a former Reagan Administration economic advisor, said he expects claims to head downward in June and July.

"They should be very low, the initial claims should be, and we should have passed the trough of the market," said Laffer.

Nonetheless, more people will continue to lose jobs even as California counties slowly allow businesses to reopen.

"These numbers will stay high, even at the same time we are getting millions added back to payrolls," said UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Economist Professor Jim Wilcox.

Bernick said there are two reasons Californians can not sustain themselves on stimulus and unemployment checks. First, sheer economics.

"A $1,200 stimulus check doesn't get you anywhere here in California, or very far. And, it's not sustainable economically because even unemployment insurance, with enhanced unemployment insurance, doesn't get you very far and the enhanced unemployment insurance is only through late July," said Bernick.

The labor expert said there's the equally important work ethic, the personal and societal need to get back to work. "It doesn't work socially because no society can survive or has been able to survive just in terms of paying people benefits and it doesn't correspond with all we know about human nature," said Bernick.

Bernick said much of the re-opening came from intense public and business pressure placed on lawmakers.