New unemployment claims hit record 6.6 million

New unemployment claims hit record 6.6 million

Unemployed workers in the state submitted 23,761 new claims for the week from March 22 to 28, up from the previous week's 21,459, according to Maine Department of Labor data released Thursday.

For the second week in a row, the coronavirus pandemic is forcing a record number of South Dakotans onto unemployment rolls. Analysts had projected 3 million to 6 million new filings for the week ending March 28. Seth Carpenter, an economist at Swiss bank UBS, estimates that about one-third of last week's claims had been delayed from the previous week, when state offices that handle unemployment benefits were overwhelmed by a surge of online and telephone claims. Schools and businesses have been closed and many states have told their citizens to remain home as much as possible.

The states' new claims came from numerous sectors, according to the U.S. Department of Labor: services, retail trade, manufacturing, wholesale trade, construction, and agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industries.

Employers are slashing their payrolls to try to stay afloat because their revenue has collapsed, especially at restaurants, hotels, gyms, movie theaters and other venues that depend on face-to-face interaction.

But the virus' effects are broad.

It's hard to overstate the devastation behind the numbers.

Last week's claims were more than quadruple the high of 5,634 new weekly claims set during the Great Recession in 2009. Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas, California, Michigan, Washington, Minnesota, New Jersey and IL all saw jobless claims increase by at least 100,000 in the last week.

Before the coronavirus shut down major parts of the USA economy, the highest week for claims was 695,000 in 1982. Continued claims increased to 45,700 from 30,200 the previous week. Continuing claims tracks the number of people who were already getting benefits who still qualify for it.

The claims go to state unemployment trust funds.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized for the situation earlier this week.

"The level of need for unemployment benefits right now is far beyond anything we've ever seen in such a short time", said Gail Krumenauer, communications director at Oregon's labor department. Monday, for example, is reserved for those last names that start with A through F.

The roughly $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump last week is meant to help ease some of the financial pain many laid-off Americans are experiencing. It includes expanded unemployment insurance, loans for businesses and direct payments to individuals and families. It will likely reinforce economists' views that the longest employment boom in USA history probably ended in March.

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