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Unemployed claims accounted for a record 3.3 million as coronavirus clobbers labor market

An unprecedented number of Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week when the coronavirus pandemic closed businesses across the country.

Nearly 3.3 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending March 21, a nearly five-fold increase from the previous week’s record since 1982. By comparison, in the worst individual week after the 2008 economic crash, unemployment claims stood at 665 000.

“This represents the single worst individual labor market news in US history,” Andrew Stettner, a senior at the Century Foundation, said in an email.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment assistance “clearly illustrates the extent of the economic devastation the corona virus has released,”

; said Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics in a note to investors. In perspective, the unemployment requirements that were reported on Thursday wiped out all the job benefits for 2019 and half of 2018.

And as astonishing as the numbers are, they are likely to rise in the coming weeks, Ashworth noted. The current claim has made overwhelmed many government websites, prevents many recently dismissed workers from applying for financial aid.

Ashworth added that he expects the country’s unemployment, which was 50 years old was 3.5% in February, to the top 10% as soon as next month.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dismissed figures for unemployment claims on Thursday, saying they were “not relevant” because US lawmakers were about to approve a significant financial stimulus bill. The package would give unemployed workers their full pay for four months, extend benefits to independent contractors (who are usually exempt) and send direct payments of up to $ 1,200 to each adult. The package also includes hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate loans and support to hospitals and state and local governments.

A record high of 3.28 million Americans apply for unemployment benefits during the past week

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