BCN-11 US weekly jobless claims at 3.84 mn, virus total passes 30 mn

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ZCZC

BCN-11

HEALTH-VIRUS-US-ECONOMY

US weekly jobless claims at 3.84 mn, virus total passes 30 mn

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Another 3.84 million US workers
filed for unemployment benefits last week and the total has now passed 30
million in six weeks, according to Labor Department data released Thursday.

The report for the week ended April 25 showed a decline in the number of
people applying for jobless benefits, but the level remains many times the
230,000 initial claims in the same week of 2019.

And even as the government rushed to expand benefits and provide aid to
small businesses to pay their workers through the Paycheck Protection Program
and other measures, the average for the past four weeks has soared to more
than 5 million.

With state unemployment offices overwhelmed by applicants, swamping their
archaic computer systems, many people have not been able to file claims or
have not received a decision.

The total number of workers who are actually receiving jobless benefits
surged by more than 2.2 million in the week to 17.99 million, “The highest
level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment in the history of the
seasonally adjusted series,” the report said.

While the jobless claims data do not directly correlate with the all-
important monthly unemployment report, the surge in people who have lost jobs
is a good indication of bad news to come.

“We expect job losses in April will be shockingly high,” Rubeela Farooqi
of High Frequency Economics said in an analysis. “Labor market conditions
have deteriorated sharply in response to the economy largely being closed for
virus containment.”

The unemployment rate in March jumped to 4.4 percent, but that was before
the strictest lockdowns were imposed nationwide.

Layoffs have accelerated in April and economists expect the rate to surge
into double digits when the Labor Department releases the latest jobs report
May 8.

“Claims may continue to fall over coming weeks but will likely remain high
as businesses remain closed and have no choice but to continue to reduce or
furlough their workforce,” Farooqi said.

Oxford Economics projects jobs losses of 24 million in April, pushing the
unemployment rate to 14 percent — surpassing the 10 percent peak hit in
October 2009 during the global financial crisis.

The economic damage from the coronavirus-induced shutdowns was also
reflected in the 7.5 percent plunge in consumer spending in March, according
to a Commerce Department report Thursday.

That was a key factor driving the 4.8 percent contraction of the US
economy in the first quarter.

BSS/AFP/MRU/1940hrs