U.S. unemployment claims hit record amid coronavirus lockdown

A woman passes by the Whales Tale in Cape May that is closed due to the coronavirus social distancing

Almost 3.3 million people registered to claim unemployment benefits for the week ended 21 March, according to Department of Labor data.

The jaw-dropping figure eclipses the previous weekly jobless claim record of 695,000 in October 1982.

Initial U.S. unemployment insurance claims rose last week to over 3.2 million, an increase of over 3 million from the previous week. 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 report affirmed economists' fears that the coronavirus outbreak and ensuing social distancing measures to contain it have forced businesses to let workers go at a record clip. That was up from 2,229 reported in the state the week before.

In February, the Labor Department reported that unemployment had reached a 50-year low of 3.5 percent.

The question now is just how many people have been hit, with more job losses expected in the days and weeks to come.

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