Millions more Americans filed claims for unemployment benefits last week, suggesting that layoffs were spreading to industries that were not initially directly impacted by business closures and disruptions related to the coronavirus.
The Labor Department's weekly jobless claims report on Thursday followed news on Wednesday that the economy in the first quarter suffered its sharpest contraction since the Great Recession. This ended the longest expansion in the United States' history as the economy reels from nationwide lockdowns to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 3.839 million for the week ended April 25, the government said. That was down from 4.442 million in the prior week but the numbers are still high at levels unimaginable just months ago. Economists polled by Reuters had expected 3.50 million claims in the latest week. Applications for jobless benefits hit a record 6.867 million in the week ended March 28.
"Job separations will likely remain high for a while, as softer demand spills over into industries not initially directly affected by shutdowns,” said Andrew Hollenhorst, an economist at Citigroup in New York.
Last week's filings lifted the number of people who sought unemployment benefits to around 30 million since March 21, roughly 18.4% of the working age population.
At face value, the ballooning joblessness rolls imply a jump in the unemployment rate to above 15% in April.
Source : Reuters