US jobless claims spike to a record 3.3 million as coronavirus triggers widespread unemployment


A record number of people in the US filed claims for unemployment insurance last week amid the coronavirus pandemic.
US weekly jobless claims for the week ending March 21 were 3,283,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Economists will be watching future reports to see how bad the situation in the US really is as coronavirus triggers a widespread economic shutdown.
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The number of people who filed claims for unemployment insurance in the US last week surged to an all-time high as the coronavirus pandemic spurred layoffs across the country.

US weekly jobless claims for the week ending March 21 totaled 3,283,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday, exceeding the consensus analyst forecast of 1.5 million. That’s up from 281,000 in the previous week, which already marked a two-year high.

The number is by far the largest on record for a single week, exceeding the previous record of nearly 700,000 newly filed jobless claims in 1982.

“Record is not even the right word here,” Martha Gimbel, an economist at Schmidt Futures, told Business Insider in an interview. “These numbers are literally incredible.”

For context, Gimbel pointed out that for the week ending March 7, the total number of those on unemployment insurance in the US was 1.7 million people. That means that more people filed for it last week than were previously in the program.

The unprecedented number of unemployment claims shows the exceptional damage the coronavirus pandemic is having on the US economy. As the country races to curb its spread, states have gone into lockdown. That’s involved sending workers home, encouraging social distancing, and shutting down schools, restaurants, and factories.

Read more: GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 14 stocks, which all possess the 3 most important qualities for shielding against coronavirus fallout

The shock those measures have created has never been seen before, and there’s uncertainty over when they will end.

“We don’t really have a good example of a case where global services activity has come to more or less a screeching halt,” Michael Gapen, chief US economist at Barclays, told Business Insider.

Efforts to stimulate the US economy have been widespread. In the last week, the Federal Reserve and the White House have moved to prop up the US economy amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Fed slashed interest rates near zero in an unexpected move and this week launched unlimited bond-buying and a …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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