A Record 3.3 Million Americans Applied for Unemployment Last Week

Last week's claims more than quadrupled the previous record

us unemployment
Things are bad!
OHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images
By Carl Caminetti / March 26, 2020 11:01 am

Unemployment claims in the U.S. hit a record 3.3 million last week as Americans lose their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reported. Last week’s record-setting claims annihilated the previous record set in 1982, more than quadrupling it.

The unprecedented surge in unemployment claims is a sharp refection of the swift and steep economic decline the country has witnessed as the fallout from the pandemic forces businesses to close across many critical industries. The service and hospitality industries have endured an abject revenue collapse as hotels, bars, restaurants and movie theaters across the country have shuttered, leading to mounting layoffs.

As the layoffs continue to pile up, some economists predict the unemployment rate could approach 13 percent by May, dwarfing the 10 percent high reached during the Great Recession.

The record-setting unemployment claims come on the heels of a 50-year unemployment rate low of 3.5 percent as recently as February, painting a jarring portrait of the swift economic deterioration wrought by the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the economy was “growing steadily if modestly” a mere month ago, economists predict it will decline at its steepest annual pace ever, a contraction that could reach 30 percent.

Meanwhile, last week’s record setting estimate may actually fall short of the actual number of unemployment seekers in America, as many recently unemployed have been unable to file for aid as state websites and phone systems have crashed under the unprecedented volume of traffic.

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