US Unemployment Claims Hit 6.6 Million — Sizable Jump From Previous Week’s 3.4 Million

More than 6,648,000 people filed for unemployment last week, ending March 28, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Thursday.

The record-breaking figure smashed a previous high, set just the week before ending March 21, of 3.3 million unemployment claims.

“The COVID-19 financial crisis has clobbered the U.S. economy, forcing thousands of businesses to shutter amid government-mandated stay-in-place orders,” ABC News reports.

Politico reports:

The rush to claim unemployment benefits occurred as the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus rose above 200,000 and government measures to contain the epidemic shut down increasing swaths of the U.S. economy, with residents in 37 states now ordered to stay at home.

The total job losses in just two weeks — almost 10 million Americans — amounts to a staggering, sudden blow to American workers never seen before in the U.S. economy. The labor market in the coming weeks could blow past the 15 million jobs lost at the peak of the 18-month Great Recession from 2007 to 2009. President Donald Trump, who built his record for the past three years in office around economic growth and job growth, has now seen gains from much of the past decade evaporate in a matter of weeks. An official U.S. jobless rate that sat at 3.5% in February is poised to top 10% in April alone, eclipsing the peak of the last recession.

“In one line: No words for this,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in reaction to the numbers.

In the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment in the United States was the lowest it had been in 50 years. The historic success has all but evaporated as the coronavirus continues to plague the globe.

According to a model provided via the U.S. Department of Labor, three states—Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi—have seen more than a 735% increase in the weekly unemployment claims. That number is not a typo.

California, Colorado, New York, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia have each seen at least a 480% rise in unemployment claims.

Politico adds:

“What we are going through now dwarfs anything we’ve ever seen, including the worst weeks of the great recession,” tweeted Heidi Shierholz, chief economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “I have spent the last twenty years studying the labor market and have never seen anything like it.”

The new figure, which represents unemployment claims filed the week that ended March 28, marks the largest number of weekly claims ever recorded since the government began collecting such data in 1967. The second-highest number of claims were the 3.3 million filed the week before, and the third-highest about 700,000 claims filed one week in 1982.