By Ovunc Kutlu
ANKARA (AA) - Weekly unemployment figures in the US do not provide an accurate estimate of the number of people claiming unemployment insurance, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The Labor Department releases weekly data on the number of individuals claiming unemployment insurance for the first time every Thursday, but the GAO said Monday the figures have the potential to be "both over-estimated and underestimated."
The legislative agency responsible for auditing said states' backlogs in processing claims led to individuals submitting claims for multiple weeks in single reporting periods.
"So, by using claims counts to represent the number of people, many individuals are counted more than once," it said.
The watchdog said it advised the Labor Department, and it agreed, to revise weekly news releases to clarify that the numbers reported do not accurately estimate unique individuals claiming benefits.
An estimated 22 million Americans lost jobs in March and April because of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus but only about half of that figure has since found employment.
The GAO said COVID-19 testing guidance, medical supplies and vaccines are major areas that need attention from the White House and Congress.