Another week, another data record was shattered as the coronavirus pandemic unleashed unprecedented carnage on the US economy.
The number of Americans filing their first unemployment benefits jumped to 6.65 million in the week ending March 28, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Thursday, erasing the previous record of 3.3 million established the previous week.
Thursday’s numbers likely underestimate the real size of the number of laid-off workers, since freelancers and concert workers only got their federal and federal unemployment benefits on Friday after President Donald Trump signed a historic $ 2.2 trillion rescue plan against the virus. Many state unemployment offices were also overwhelmed by a tsunami of applicants.
Early jobless claims are the most opportune data point to assess the damage COVID-19 has done to the US economy, as virus containment measures force companies to shut down across the country, throwing millions of people away Unemployed.
Thursday’s figures validate the view of most economists that the United States is already in a recession and the record boom in job creation in the country has finally stopped.
Economists expect the number of people applying for initial unemployment benefits to continue to grow as struggling workers and businesses access benefits, thanks to the federal government which has created a lot of social safety nets broader to try to mitigate the economic fallout from the virus crisis.
Thursday’s figures also prompt us to rethink already dire forecasts.
“Our seemingly super-bearish forecast that the unemployment rate will peak 12.5%, while 14 million people lose their jobs, now looks somewhat optimistic,” economist Paul Ashworth wrote in a note to clients on Thursday. Chief American at Capital Economics. “Our forecast for a 40% annualized second-quarter GDP collapse is still one of the most bearish on the market, but in light of this degree of devastation in the labor market, we believe others forecasters will get closer to us. “
In addition to extending the country’s jobless safety net to more workers, the $ 2.2 trillion virus rescue program offers unemployed workers a federal supplement of $ 600 a week to their benefits. the state for up to four months. The former average benefit payment was approximately $ 385 per person per month.
The US Department of Labor will release the employment report for March on Friday. But monthly job figures will not account for the extent of the damage in the US labor market, as the companies and households that provide the data were interviewed in the middle of the month, while only a few states applied confinement.
It will, however, offer a glimpse of the devastation that awaits it.
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