More American Workers Have Filed for Unemployment Than Live in the 10 Largest Cities in the U.S.

More workers in the U.S. have now applied for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks than the total number of people who reside in the country's 10 largest cities.

The Department of Labor released its latest report Thursday morning on the number of new jobless claims filed last week, showing that an additional 4.4 million workers submitted new claims. That brings the five-week total from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic to 26.4 million, or more than all the jobs created since the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009.

To put that number in perspective, 26.4 million people is larger than the number of people that live in the country's 10 biggest cities combined. According to the latest government Census Bureau estimates from 2018 New York City (8.4 million), Los Angeles (4 million), Chicago (2.7 million), Houston (2.3 million), Phoenix (1.7 million), Philadelphia (1.6 million), San Antonio (1.5 million) San Diego (1.4 million), Dallas (1.3 million), and San Jose, California (1 million), have a combined population of about 25.9 million.

New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is pictured on April 20 on Wall Street in New York City. Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics told CNBC that the unemployment rate now appears to have risen to 23 percent. JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty

There are also now more people in the U.S. who have filed for unemployment than the population of each individual state, with the exception of California and Texas. The largest state, California, has nearly 40 million residents, according to 2019 census estimates. Texas has about 29 million people. Florida, the third largest state by population, has about 21.5 million residents, which is nearly 5 million fewer than the total number of people who have filed for unemployment nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Further, job losses are ongoing. Based on [gross domestic product] forecasts, we project that the net decline in employment could exceed 30 million by the end of June," Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, wrote in a Thursday morning blog post.

Shierholz noted that "as in all recessions, job loss in this recession is not being meted out equally. Many of the jobs in at-risk sectors are low-wage jobs, like those in restaurants and bars, hotels, personal services, and brick-and-mortar retail. That means low-wage workers are seeing disproportionate job loss."

Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, told CNBC that the unemployment rate now appears to have risen to 23 percent. For comparison, the highest unemployment rate recorded in U.S. history came during the height of the Great Depression in 1933, when it rose to 24.9 percent. During the Great Recession, jobless claims peaked at 9.9 percent in 2009.

Congress took action in March to shore up unemployment insurance by providing an additional $600 per week to those who have lost jobs for up to four months. One-time stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per individual adult have also been sent out to millions of people nationwide. Additionally, the government has attempted to protect workers' jobs through the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers businesses funding to keep workers on payroll through the coronavirus pandemic.