Real unemployment in the United States has likely hit 14.7%, the highest level since 1940

We’re likely sitting at the highest level of joblessness since Franklin Roosevelt was president.

Another 6.6 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims in the week ending April 4. That follows 3.3 million and 6.9 million in the two previous weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Before this three-week stretch of 16.8 million of initial jobless claims, there were already 7.1 million unemployed Americans as of March 13, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. When the figures are combined, it would equal 23.9 million unemployed, or a real unemployment rate of 14.7%—which would be the highest level since the early years of World War II.

The ‘official’ current unemployment rate of 4.4%—up from 3.5% in February—is lagging, running through the week ending March 13. So it’s the April jobs report when we should start to see this double digit figure manifest.

However, the way the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes Americans as unemployed could undercount the official jobless rate. Americans are only considered unemployed if they’re out of a job and also seeking work. Some recently laid-off workers may wait until the stay-at-home orders pass before seeking a new job—thus excluding themselves from the unemployed totals.

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