Pandemic-Driven Layoffs Push Jobless Claims Into the Millions

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It is a number for the history books, and it’s likely going to get even worse before it gets better.

More than 3.3 million Americans are out of work and have filed for jobless claims across the United States, an unheard of number never before recorded, as the onslaught of the deadly coronavirus brings the world’s largest economy to its knees.

The U.S. Labor Department on Thursday said that jobless claims for the week ended March 21 tallied 3.283 million, more than triple the 1 million in claims expected by economists surveyed by Econoday. The last record weekly number was 695,000 set in 1982.

Jobless claims across the U.S. soared as the coronavirus pandemic prompted widespread shutdowns of commerce and industry, and layoffs with it, but it’s going to get significantly worse.

Until March, U.S. employers had added jobs for a record 113 straight months, causing payrolls to grow by 22 million, pushing the jobless rate to 3.5% in February, a near-record level not seen since the 1960s.

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