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

Washington: 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 on 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.”


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