The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week has shot to a record 6.6 million – as layoffs increased amid the coronavirus pandemic and more states enforced stay-at-home orders.
New claims for unemployment benefits rose to 6.65 million in the week ending March 28, according to figures released by the Department of Labor on Thursday.
The number of first-time applications for jobless benefits was double the previous record of 3.3 million new claims filed for the week ending March 21.
It means that roughly 10 million Americans have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment in the two weeks that the coronavirus started rapidly spreading across the country.
The new unemployment claims account for the week in which states like New York shuttered non-essential businesses and enforced stay-at-home orders.
More than 80 percent of Americans are now under some form of lockdown – up from less than 50 percent just a few weeks ago – as the death toll rose to 5,139 as more than 216,000 Americans have tested positive for the virus.
All 50 states reported rises in new unemployment claims, according to the new report. Pennsylvania (up 362,012), Ohio (up 189,263) and Massachusetts (up 141,003) reported the largest increases.
In the same week of last year, only 211,000 people requested benefits for the first time.
Some of last week’s jobless claims could be delayed filings from the previous week when state offices that handle unemployment benefits were overwhelmed by a surge of online and telephone claims.
There is anecdotal evidence that people who have tried to file claims online have not been able to with some forced to wait five hours to log onto the website and others calling hundreds of times just to get through.
Numerous state unemployment agencies have struggled to keep up with the flood of applications for jobless benefits.
New York’s Labor Department is asking people to file on different days depending on their last names, for example: Monday is reserved for those last names that start with A through F.
The government’s weekly report, the most timely data on the economy’s health, offered the clearest evidence yet that the longest employment boom in US history likely ended in March.
Before the virus hit, unemployment in the US was at its lowest in 60 years and the economy was stronger than it had ever been.
The surging layoffs have led some economists to predict the worst job losses since World War II.
Many employers are continuing to slash their payrolls to try to stay afloat during the pandemic because their revenue has collapsed, especially at restaurants, hotels, gyms, movie theaters and other venues that depend on face-to-face interaction.
Stay-at-home orders, imposed by most US states, have intensified pressure on businesses, most of which face rent, loans and other bills that must be paid.
Source: Daily Mail