Tue. Mar 31st, 2020

Devastating 3.3M Job Losses In One Week In The US, Worst Than The Great Depression-Era

A record number of Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, as businesses shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  

Initial jobless claims soared to a seasonally adjusted 3.28 million in the week ended March 21, according to the Department of Labor.  That is the highest number of initial jobless claims in history, since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967. The previous high was 695,000 claims filed in the week ending October 2, 1982. “Most historical comparisons of this scale are inadequate.The closest would be natural disasters like major hurricanes. However, as today’s report shows, the coronavirus outbreak is economically akin to a major hurricane occurring in every state around the country for weeks on end,”

Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao wrote in emailed comments.Last week’s jump marked a massive increase from a revised 282,000 claims in the prior week. Prior to the pandemic, initial claims had been hovering in the low 200,000s each week, reflecting a strong job market. 

But in the last couple weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has forced many businesses to suddenly shut down as the country tries to slow the spreading virus. For many businesses that also means laying off workers, at least temporarily. That is the key difference between the coronavirus shock compared with past periods of economic distress: it is sudden and impacts virtually every industry and business model around.  

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett

Photographs are Courtesy:  AP

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