A record 3.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in a week
Washington: 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 US Labor Department on Thursday, local time, 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 ($3.3 trillion) stimulus package.
A fifth of the US workforce is estimated to be on some form of lockdown.Credit:AP
Last week's claims data likely will have no impact on March's employment report as it falls outside the period during which the government surveyed employers for non-farm payrolls, which was the week to March 14. Economists, however, say the rush for benefits in that survey week suggests payrolls declined this month, which would end nearly 9½ years of job growth.
"Jobs will decline in March," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
"There are numerous reports of laid-off workers unable to file for unemployment insurance because so many people are trying to file at the same time. Millions of job losses are likely in coming weeks."
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