Millions of Jobless Claims as the Coronavirus Shutdown Continues

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Even as states begin to reopen after more than seven weeks of being shuttered for all but essential services, weekly jobless claims are still on the rise - pointing to a record-breaking unemployment number for April.

An additional 3.2 million Americans are out of work and have filed for unemployment benefits, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday, 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.

Jobless claims for the week ended May 2 totaled some 3.169 million, slightly below FactSet estimates of 3 million jobless claims but still eye-opening, considering the economy was actually adding jobs just a few short months ago. 

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 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%.