Unemployment benefits: 6.6 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week as coronavirus takes toll on job markets



6.6 million workers filed for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28 — a new historic high. Economists polled by Refinitiv had expected 3.5 million claims.

A week earlier, 3.3 million Americans filed for their first week of benefits, which was the largest number ever at the time.

This “tectonic shift” in the US labor market “implied a real-time unemployment rate of 10.1% at a minimum,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM.

As companies continue to close their doors and shed workers to limit the spread of coronavirus throughout the population, more workers will need government aid to make ends meet.

Brusuelas said in his view, the Trump administration should work on a next-phase fiscal aid package to “target plugging the holes that are being blown in state and local budgets, in addition to Federal Reserve purchases of state and municipal debt.” The government passed the CARES Act to combat the effects from the coronavirus outbreak last week.
The March jobs report, which is due Friday at 8:30 am ET, is not expected to look quite as dire. The Refinitiv consensus estimate is for a loss of 100,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate inching up to 3.8%, from its historic low of 3.5%.

The March report will be more muted because the survey it is based on concludes around the middle of the month — which was before millions of Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time.

— This is a developing story. It will be updated.



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