United States unemployment claims hit record amid coronavirus lockdown

Claims for unemployment benefits are spiking around the country as businesses shut down to stem the spread of the coronavirus

Claims for unemployment benefits are spiking around the country as businesses shut down to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Andrew Kelly Reuters

It's bad: Based on state data, Morgan Stanley thinks the U.S. government could announce Thursday that 3.4 million people filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week.

The jaw-dropping figure eclipses the previous weekly jobless claim record of 695,000 in October 1982. But that staggering leap in joblessness likely understates the full damage the coronavirus outbreak has inflicted on the US labor market, according to multiple economists.

The Department of Labor said, "Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts".

The Labor Department reported California's claims at 186,809 last week, and New York's at 80,334, with each of these trailing the almost 379,000 claims filed in Pennsylvania. Nationally, 3.3 million people applied for unemployment insurance.

Iowa residents filed more than 40,000 claims for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus outbreak forced many workers to lose jobs and stay home.

You can read the full report from the Department of Labor here.

That number was five times greater than in any single weekly period of new filings since record-keeping began in 1967 - and it points to what many expect will be a dramatic increase in the jobless rate, possibly even into double digits later this spring.

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