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Thu Mar 26, 2020, 10:45 AM

Staggering jobless claim numbers: 3.2M - what a difference a month makes

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week.
The data suggested the labor market was on solid footing despite the coronavirus outbreak.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped to 216,000 for the week ended Feb. 29, the Labor Department said.

New unemployment claims surged to a record high last week, topping 3 million. But that staggering leap in joblessness likely understates the full damage the coronavirus outbreak has inflicted on the U.S. labor market, according to multiple economists.

For the week ended March 21, new unemployment claims totaled 3.283 million, seasonally adjusted, or more than twice the 1.7 million consensus economists polled by Bloomberg had expected. The figure was more than four times greater than the previous record high of 695,000 from 1982.
And the level was astronomical compared to the prior week’s 282,000 claims, and the 190,023 initial claims filed during the comparable week in 2019. As the Department of Labor put it, “Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts.”

It will get worse before it gets better.

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