America jobless claims hit $3 million
Estimates were as high as 4 million
- Published 27.03.20, 1:23 AM
- Updated 27.03.20, 1:23 AM
- a min read
The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record of more than 3 million last week as strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic ground the country to a sudden halt, unleashing a wave of layoffs that likely brought an end to the longest employment boom in US history.
The weekly jobless claims report from the labour department on Thursday offered the clearest evidence yet of the coronavirus’ devastating impact on the economy, which has forced the Federal Reserve to take extraordinary steps and the US Congress to assemble a record $2 trillion stimulus package.
Economists say the economy is already in recession. Weekly claims are the most timely labour market indicator. Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 3,001,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.28 million in the week ending March 21, eclipsing the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982, the labour department said.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims would rise to 1 million, though estimates were as high as 4 million.
The labour department attributed the surge to Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. “During the week ending March 21, the increase in initial claims are due to the impacts of the Covid-19 virus,” the department said. “States continued to cite services industries broadly.”