Thee are two US government agencies reporting unemployment.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 4.8 million jobs were created, unemployment dropped by 3.2 million. BLS claims that unemployment is 17.8 million.
The Labor Department (DOL) reported that the number of people on federal or state unemployment payments is 31.49 million
Which of those is right? My guess is, that just as is the case with anything else American, your opinion depends on whether you are Republican or Democrat.
So, as always with statistics, we need to dig a bit deeper, and look at how these numbers are collected.
The BLS does a survey of 54,000 households. And people fill in a questionnaire. I'm just wondering how someone on "furlough" or just laid off temporarily, would report their status. The BLS web site admits that its numbers are underestimates, because people who are now in a very unfamiliar situation aren't filling in the forms correctly.
The difference is people claiming "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance", 13.6 million people for federal and state combined.
But with the payouts, you don't have to do a survey. Actual money is being paid, so it's easy to count how many people are receiving that money.
So, although I realise that some people will prefer the lower unemployment number for political reasons, it seems to me that the statistical basis for the DOL number is much more solid.
There were 131 million people in employment before the 2020 crises struck. 31.49 million of them are collecting unemployment benefit.
So the current unemployment rate is 24%
Source for 31.49 million unemployed: