The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record of more than three million amid the strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department offered the clearest evidence yet of the coronavirus’ devastating impact on the economy, which has forced the Federal Reserve to take extraordinary steps and the U.S. Congress to assemble a record $2 trillion stimulus package.
Most of the layoffs are coming from the accommodation and food service, health care and social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing industries.
“With partial lockdowns across the country leading to a sudden stop in economic activity, the U.S. economy will experience the largest economic contraction on record with the most severe surge in unemployment ever,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York.
U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said in a statement, “This large increase in unemployment claims was not unexpected, and results from the recognition by Americans across the country that we have had to temporarily halt certain activities in order to defeat the coronavirus.”
The rising job cuts and a tumbling economy have prompted President Donald Trump to push for businesses to reopen by Easter, However, given the surging death toll, health experts and economists have argued against such a move.