Pew Research Center: Unemployment rise is higher amid COVID-19 than Great Recession

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June 11 (UPI) -- The number of unemployed rose more during three months of the COVID-19 pandemic than it did during two years of the Great Recession, the Pew Research Center said Thursday.

Pew Research Center's data shows that U.S. unemployment rose by more than 14 million people from February to May.

The Great Recession officially lasted from December 2007 through June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

From the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2010, the number of unemployed rose by 8.8 million compared to a rise of 14 million in just three months of COVID-19, Pew Research Center analysts found.

The unemployment rate increased from 3.8 percent in February to 13 percent in May. Last month's unemployment rate was slightly lower than April when it reached 14.4 percent.

In January 2010, the Great Recession had brought the unemployment rate to a peak of 10.6 percent.

Furthermore, analysts said that the unemployment rate in May might be underestimated because of measurement challenges due to the pandemic and a sharp decline in labor force participation.

"In May, 9 million Americans not in the labor force were in want of a job compared with 5 million in February, per government estimates," the Pew Research Center said in a statement. "But these workers are not included in the official measure of unemployment. Thus, the COVID-19 recession is comparable more to the Great Depression of the 1930s, when the unemployment rate is estimated to have reached 25 percent."

The Pew Research Center showed a rise in unemployment across a range of demographic groups.

Unemployment rate was notably higher for women than men across all racial/ethnic groups in May.

During the same month, Hispanic women had the highest rate of unemployment at 19.5 percent, rising from 5.5 percent in February.

The Pew Research Center also noted that black men were the only demographic group whose unemployment rate in May was substantially less than the peak rate they faced in the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate for black men was 15.8 percent in May, rising from 7.3 percent in February, but notably less than their 21.2 percent unemployment rate during the Great Recession.

Pew Research Center analysts said that it's unclear why black men were the only group to experience this, but unemployment hit black men worse when "goods-producing sectors" were hit in the Great Recession.

Earlier this month, the Economic Policy Institute said that black workers are disproportionately among the essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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