An additional 3.2 million Americans are out of work and have filed for unemployment benefits, even as some states slowly begin to reopen following the onslaught of the deadly coronavirus that has brought the U.S. economy to an unprecedented standstill.
The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims for the week ended May 2 were 3.169 million. Economists surveyed by FactSet had been expecting 3 million jobless claims for a week that began to show some signs of life following almost eight full weeks of near-zero economic activity.
One in five U.S. workers has now filed for unemployment benefits in the past seven weeks - and that doesn't even take into account the millions of Americans not eligible for assistance. To date, some 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits.
The previous week's level was revised up by 7,000 to 3,846,000 from 3,839,000, while the four-week moving average was 17,097,750, an increase of 3,800,250 from the previous week's revised average.
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ended April 18 was 18,919,371, an increase of 2,416,289 from the previous week. There were 1,673,740 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2019.
The Labor Department noted that this week's report now includes information on claimants filing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims.
U.S. employers slashed payrolls by a never-before-seen 20-plus million in April, ADP and Moody's Analytics reported on Wednesday, as the coronavirus pandemic ripped through the economy and prompted wide-scale shutdowns of all but essential businesses.
That is expected to be reflected in Friday's nonfarm payrolls report for April, in which analysts expect to see a 21-million drop in payrolls for the month, pushing the unemployment rate down to 16%.