While Gov. John Bel Edwards unexpectedly postponed the phased reopening of Louisiana’s economy to May 15, the most recently released economic data shows precisely why we need to Get Louisiana Working as soon as possible.

Another 66,000 Louisianans filed unemployment claims for the week ending April 25 . While this was less than the week before, this number still dwarfs the amount of claims seen any time in the past decade.

These new figures bring the total number of unemployment claims filed since March 7 to nearly 24 percent of Louisiana’s total labor force. This means nearly 24 percent of the people in Louisiana, who had a job or wanted one, have filed for unemployment in the last two months.

Of course, the point of filing for unemployment is to eventually collect unemployment benefits.  As of the week ending April 18, nearly 300,000 Louisianans were doing so, a 13 percent increase from the previous week. This translates to roughly 14 percent of the Louisiana workforce collecting these benefits. This number will continue to climb higher, as the backlog of those who have applied continues to get processed through an overworked system.

No one can blame those collecting unemployment benefits, as the people who were gainfully employed still have bills to pay, even after the government induced shutdown. But, experiencing an approximately 2,400 percent increase in those collecting unemployment benefits is very concerning for any state.

The level of economic damage resulting from this virus and the subsequent shutdown of the Louisiana economy is becoming more clear. Our state simply can’t afford to have tens of thousands of its citizens laid off each week. Not only are workers losing their paychecks, we are all losing out on the value they create.

The Pelican Institute will continue to strongly urge Gov. Edwards and all of our elected officials to treat the worsening economic crisis  with the same urgency as the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. If you agree the we need to Get Louisiana Working, sign our recently launched petition to the governor and other state leaders and encourage your friends and family to sign it and make their voices heard as well. We must Get Louisiana Working as quickly and safely as possible.