AFP - WASHINGTON: A whopping 5.2 million workers in the US rendered jobless sought unemployment benefits last week amid the exacerbating economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, the government reported Thursday.
The data through April 11 indicate the world's largest economy has purged 22 million jobs since mid-March as the measures to contain the virus have forced companies, shops and restaurants to close their doors.
While initial claims filed in the latest week were nearly 1.4 million lower than the prior week, the news is still grim. In the comparable week of last year, only 203,000 people filed first-time claims for jobless benefits, according to the Labor Department report.
COVID-19 was cited as the reason for rising unemployment in every state that listed a cause, with widespread layoffs in hotels, food service, retail, construction, and even mining reported.
Economists say this may indicate the layoffs have peaked, but the US unemployment rate is nonetheless likely to hit double digits in April.
"After an unprecedented climb, initial unemployment claims appear to have reached a vertiginous plateau," Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics said in an analysis.
But he said the figures will remain "remain extraordinarily high in coming weeks as the economy plunges deeper into a recession" and the labor market enters a "traumatic period".