‘The number of people without jobs in the US has surged to a record high as the economy goes into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 3.3 million people registered to claim unemployment benefits for the week ended 21 March, according to Department of Labor data.
The previous record was set in 1982, when unemployment claims hit 695,000.
The sharp rise marks an abrupt end to a long period of slow and steady job market expansion.
It comes as officials in states across the country close restaurants, bars, movie theatres, hotels and gyms. Car firms have halted production and air travel has fallen precipitously. According to economists, a fifth of the workforce is on some form of lockdown.
State officials, who process unemployment claims, have reported being overwhelmed by requests for the benefits, which analysts said means the situation could be even worse than the data currently shows.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Economics, said he expects to see the unemployment rate increase to to at least 6.5% shortly – nearly double the prior rate – and continue to accelerate in future months.’