A record 3.28 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, according to the Labor Department, as the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak rippled across the global economy.
The previous weekly record was 695,000 in October 1982. The peak during the Great Recession was 665,000 in March 2009.
Two weeks ago, which reflected the period before the worst of the coronavirus hit, there were 282,000 claims.
Pennsylvania’s non-seasonally adjusted claims rose twentyfold while New York’s claims quintupled and California’s tripled, according to the states’ reports.
“This large increase in unemployment claims was not unexpected, and results from the recognition by Americans across the country that we have had to temporarily halt certain activities in order to defeat the coronavirus,” Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said in a statement.
A survey by Dow Jones found economists expected about 1.5 million unemployment claims.
“This is a unique situation. People need to understand; this is not a typical downturn,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in an interview.
“At a certain point, we will get the spread of the virus under control. At that time, confidence will return, businesses will open again, people will come back to work,” Powell said. “So, you may well see a significant rise in unemployment, a significant decline in economic activity. But there can also be a good rebound on the other side of that.”
The Fed chairman said the U.S. economy already “may well be in recession” but that confidence would return when the pandemic was controlled.
Powell made his remarks before the unemployment numbers were released.
The jobs figures came as the Senate passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill that includes a $500 billion fund for industries hit by the pandemic and payments of up to $3,000 for some families.
A vote in the House of Representatives is expected on Friday.
There were more than 75,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and more than 1,000 deaths attributed to it as of Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 4.55% in early afternoon trading.
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