New Jobless Claims Double in a Week to 6.6 Million

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer April 2, 2020
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woman being laid off

​A total of 6.6 million U.S. workers filed for new unemployment benefits during the week ending March 28, doubling the previous week’s record total of 3.3 million. Millions more workers are expected to file for unemployment in the weeks ahead, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For context, before the coronavirus shuttered the U.S. economy, the highest week for claims was 695,000 in 1982. The Great Recession high was 665,000 in March 2009.

“The deterioration of the labor market in the past two weeks almost defies belief,” said Nick Bunker, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “Since March 14, approximately 3.8 percent of the working age population has filed for unemployment. The labor market is in a historic freefall.”

Layoffs, furloughs and hiring freezes have begun to surge, especially in the transportation, restaurant, hospitality and retail sectors, as the coronavirus spreads across the country and nonessential businesses have been ordered to close. The weekly jobless claims report is the most-timely economic indicator for measuring the impact of the virus on the U.S. economy.

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