The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week has shot to a record 6.6 million – as layoffs increased amid the coronavirus pandemic and more states enforced stay-at-home orders.
New claims for unemployment benefits rose to 6.65 million in the week ending March 28, according to figures released by the Department of Labor on Thursday.
The number of first-time applications for jobless benefits was double the previous record of 3.3 million new claims filed for the week ending March 21.
It means that roughly 10 million Americans have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment in the two weeks that the coronavirus started rapidly spreading across the country.
In the same week of last year, only 211,000 people requested benefits for the first time.
The new unemployment claims account for the week in which states like New York shuttered non-essential businesses and enforced stay-at-home orders.
About 90 percent of Americans are now under some form of lockdown – up from less than 50 percent just a few weeks ago – as the death toll rose to 5,139 as more than 216,000 Americans have tested positive for the virus.
All 50 states reported rises in new unemployment claims, according to the report, with Pennsylvania (up 362,012), Ohio (up 189,263) and Massachusetts (up 141,003) reporting the largest increases.
In New York, 370,000 people filed new claims last week – an increase of 2,674 percent compared to last year.
Meanwhile, in California nearly 900,000 people sought benefits last week, almost four times the previous week’s figure, and equivalent to 5 percent of the state’s workforce.
In Michigan, jobless claims more than doubled last week to 311,000. In Florida, filings tripled to 227,000. In South Dakota, they quadrupled to 6,645.
New claims for unemployment benefits rose to 6.65 million in the latest week from the 3.3 million the previous week. It means that 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the two weeks that the coronavirus started rapidly spreading across the country
New claims for unemployment benefits rose to 6.65 million in the week ending March 28. In the same week of last year, only 211,000 people requested benefits for the first time
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week has shot to a record 6.6 million, according to figures released by the Department of Labor on Thursday
Some of last week’s jobless claims could be delayed filings from the previous week when state offices that handle unemployment benefits were overwhelmed by a surge of online and telephone claims.
Many of those offices are still struggling to process all the claims they have received, suggesting more claims will be pushed into the following week.
There is anecdotal evidence that people who have tried to file claims online have not been able to with some forced to wait five hours to log onto the website and others calling hundreds of times just to get through.
Numerous state unemployment agencies have struggled to keep up with the flood of applications for jobless benefits. New York’s Labor Department is asking people to file on different days depending on their last names, for example: Monday is reserved for those last names that start with A through F.
The government’s weekly report, the most timely data on the economy’s health, offered the clearest evidence yet that the longest employment boom in US history likely ended in March.
Before the virus hit, unemployment in the US was at its lowest in 60 years and the economy was stronger than it had ever been.
The surging layoffs have led some economists to predict the worst job losses since World War II.
Many employers are continuing to slash their payrolls to try to stay afloat during the pandemic because their revenue has collapsed, especially at restaurants, hotels, gyms, movie theaters and other venues that depend on face-to-face interaction.
Stay-at-home orders, imposed by most US states, have intensified pressure on businesses, most of which face rent, loans and other bills that must be paid.
The result far surpassed even the highest of estimates by economists with analysts who had expected grim figures left stunned.
‘No words for this,’ said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.
‘We’re hoping today’s reading will be the peak, but we can’t be sure,’ he said in an analysis. ‘In any event, total layoffs between the March and April payroll surveys look destined to reach perhaps 16 to 20 million, consistent with the unemployment rate leaping to 13 to 16 percent. In one month.’
The outbreak has spurred an unprecedented surge in Americans seeking government assistance.
They have already outstripped applications for unemployment benefits that peaked at 665,000 during the 2007-2009 recession, during which 8.7 million jobs were lost.
Economists say the country should brace for jobless claims to continue escalating, partly citing generous provisions of a historic $2.2 trillion fiscal package signed by President Donald Trump last week and the federal government’s easing of requirements for workers to seek benefits.
The expanded unemployment benefits system added $600 a week in jobless aid, on top of what recipients receive from their states. The unemployed are eligible for up to $600 per week for up to four months, which is equivalent to $15 per hour for a 40-hour week.
By comparison, the government-mandated minimum wage is about $7.25 per hour and the average jobless benefits payment was roughly $385 per person per month at the start of this year.
It also makes many more people eligible for unemployment benefits, including the self-employed, contractors, and so-called ‘gig economy’ workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers.
The legislation will help to fund unemployment benefits for workers whose hours have been cut. That would enable these people to replace some of their lost income with unemployment aid even as they keep their jobs. About 26 states allow workers with reduced hours to claim benefits.
Last week’s claims data has no bearing on the closely watched employment report for March, which is scheduled for release on Friday.
For the employment report, the government surveyed businesses and households in the middle of the month, when just a handful of states were enforcing ‘stay-at-home’ or ‘shelter-in-place’ orders.
It is, however, a preview of the carnage that awaits as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.
Retailers including Macy’s, Kohl’s Corp and Gap Inc said on Monday they would furlough tens of thousands of employees as they prepare to keep stores shut for longer.
More than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to new figures released by the Department of Labor on Thursday. About 50 people lined up (above) outside an Arkansas unemployment office on Monday
Stocks climb as soaring oil prices resuscitate energy stocks despite jobless report showing 6.6m new claims
Wall Street pushed higher Thursday after a surge in oil prices helped resuscitate beaten-down energy stocks.
The gains helped overshadow another report showing the coronavirus outbreak is forcing a record-breaking number of Americans into the unemployment queue.
The S&P 500 rose more than 1.5% in morning trading after flipping between small gains and losses shortly after the open.
It took off with the price of oil, which surged immediately after President Donald Trump said he expects Saudi Arabia and Russia to back away from their price war.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil was up 25% at $25.58 per barrel, rallying back after dropping below $20 last month to its lowest price since 2002. At the year’s start, oil was above $60.
That helped energy stocks in the S&P 500 rally 11%, by far the biggest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the index. EOG Resources jumped 23%, ConocoPhillips jumped 17.5% and Phillips 66 added 13.1%, but all three remain down by nearly half for the year.
The overall S&P 500 was up 1.7%, as of 11 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 375 points, or 1.8%, to 21,319, and the Nasdaq was up 1.3%.
Connecticut governor says people will have to wait FIVE WEEKS for their unemployment checks and laid off workers in New York say they still can’t get through to apply
The governor of Connecticut has said that unemployment checks will be delayed at least five weeks, adding to the woes of laid off workers struggling to pay bills in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Ned Lamont said on Tuesday that Connecticut Department of Labor staff were being overwhelmed by processing applications while working remotely on outdated computer systems.
‘I’m sad to report that there’s a five-week lag time,’ Lamont said. ‘Everything is retroactive, so even if it’s slow for us to get it back to you – it’s not that our heart’s not there, it’s because the technology is 40 years old. And we’re loading in more (staff) every day to help catch up with that backlog.’
Lamont said the labor department was in the midst of updating the antiquated mainframe used to process claims, but that the update would not be complete for at least a year.
In New York, the epicenter of the outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the state normally processes about 50,000 claims a week but that on Monday the state’s Department of Labor had received 1.2 million claims.
Yet many New Yorkers who have been out of work for several weeks say they are still unable to file unemployment claims due to crashed websites and flooded call lines.
‘We can’t get thru to FILE A CLAIM’ tweeted one New York resident on Tuesday. ‘System Overload. Continues to freeze up & crash. Restricted days/hours. We realize this is an unprecedented crisis but it must be fixed ASAP.’
‘NYS Unemployment completely down,’ another wrote with a screen shot of an error message on the New York Department of Labor website. ‘Good luck getting paid.’
In response to the unprecedented claim volume, New York has instituted restrictions on which days people can apply based on the first letters of their last names – but laid off workers still say it is impossible to file.
A spokeswoman for the New York Department of Labor told DailyMail.com that the department had dedicated 700 staff members to the state’s unemployment insurance hotline and was currently training hundreds more.
‘We have added over 20 additional servers to support the website’s capacity,’ spokeswoman Deanna Cohen said in a statement. ‘We will continue to double down on all of these efforts to serve every New Yorker who is filing for unemployment insurance.’
A lone passenger checks in with a TSA agent at Denver International Airport on Wednesday as a statewide stay-at-home order remains in effect in an effort to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus
Workers at the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, are still on the job, despite a slow down in work. Less than a dozen passengers are seen waiting in a TSA line at John F. Kennedy Airport on Tuesday
Private sector employees feel pain of coronavirus job cuts as public sector workers like TSA agents are paid their full hours despite a drastic drop in travel
Private sector employees are enduring the worst of the job cuts as a result of the coronavirus outbreak with more than a quarter of American saying they’ve lost wages and about 16 percent already being furloughed or laid off, according to a poll released Wednesday.
Retailers including Macy’s, Gap, JCPenney and Neiman Marcus, as well as mall owner Simon Properties, among others from the private sector are enacting furloughs because of the outbreak.
Companies like iHeart Media representing 800 stations, outdoor recreational craft maker Polaris, and even hospital operators are also sending employees home.
Meanwhile, government employees, including those who work for the TSA, have remained employed full time despite travel restrictions resulting in a slow down in work.
Jasmine, a 21-year-old TSA agent at Los Angeles International Airport, told Vox that her job was easy for the first time ever because airlines are operating significantly fewer flights.
‘I’m just hanging out with my friends at this point,’ a TSA worker at Los Angeles International Airport told Vox.
‘Things have been really slow for about two weeks now.
‘Our numbers have just been slowly decreasing. It’s super weird because we’re so used to constant rush. Now it’s literally, like, 10 people an hour, it’s crazy.’
Southwest Airlines, for example, are currently flying at about 20 percent capacity.
While the government-run TSA continues to operate, other airport services like restaurants, bars and retails shops have been shuttered because of the virus.