Economic PolicyAmerican Government

U.S. Stocks Rise Despite Historic Unemployment

Posted on in Economic Policy · American Government

According to the Labor Department, U.S. unemployment claims skyrocketed last week as more than 6.6 million new claims were filed. That brings the number of total Americans who filed over the past three weeks to 17 million. Despite these unemployment figures, the U.S. stock market saw a historic rise. On April 9, the S&P 500 rose 39.84 points to 2,789.82, the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 1.2% to 23,719.37, and the Nasdaq climbed 0.8% to 8,153.58.

Instructors, click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for U.S. Stocks Rise Despite Historic Unemployment


“16 million people just got laid off but U.S. stocks had their best week in 45 years”
“Wall Street shakes off dismal unemployment news, closes the week on a high”
“Stocks Jump, Brushing Off Unemployment Number, After Fed Pumps Another $2.3 Trillion Into The Economy”

“Wall Street rises on latest Fed rescue program”
“Commerce stifled, millions jobless, so why is Wall Street doing better?”

“Why did the stock market rally on awful unemployment news?”
“Stocks finish best four-day stretch since 1974”


  • Writing: Discuss the historic relationship between the stock market and unemployment figures in the United States. Is there a correlation between the two? Is there a lag in this relationship?
  • Debate: Paradoxically, high unemployment numbers in times of crisis can be viewed as helpful to the market because they increase political pressure on Congress to scale up rescue measures.
  • Poll: Is this recent surge in the stock market a good indication that the economic impact of the pandemic has been successfully deferred by the federal government?
  • Short Answer: Why is Wall Street seemingly unaffected by the record unemployment figures in the United States?

Current events quiz:

1) How many unemployment claims has the U.S. seen over the last three weeks?

a. 7 million
b. 10 million
c. 17 million
d. 25 million

2) Together, what do the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the NASDAQ measure?

a. The number of new coronavirus cases
b. The health of the stock market
c. Income Inequality
d. Trade between countries

3) Wall Street is being supported by a $2.3 trillion dollar aid package from which major U.S. financial institution?

a. Bear Stearns
b. The Federal Communications Commission
c. JP Morgan Chase
d. The Federal Reserve Bank

4) The number of unemployment claims that have been filed in the past three weeks pushed total U.S. unemployment to 10 percent of the entire American work force (T/F)

5) This past week, the U.S. stock market saw a historic increase in the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average but saw a decrease in the NASDAQ (T/F)

6) Stock prices are an expression of investors’ expectations of how the economy will look next week, next month, next year and over the next decade or even longer (T/F)


1) C

2) B

3) D

4) True

5) False

6) True

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Featured Image Credit: Roland Arhelger
 Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

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