United States unemployment claims hit record amid coronavirus lockdown

Vermont jobless claims spike, smashing Great Recession high

Why the horrific jobless claims report is actually worse

It's bad: Based on state data, Morgan Stanley thinks the U.S. government could announce Thursday that 3.4 million people filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week.

The jaw-dropping figure eclipses the previous weekly jobless claim record of 695,000 in October 1982.

"During the week ending March 21, the increase in initial claims are due to the impacts of the COVID-19 virus", the department said at the top of their news release.

"There are good reasons to believe that understandable constraints on the capacity of offices to process claims mean that the true picture of layoffs is even worse", Paul Ashworth, chief US economist for Capital Economics, wrote in a note Thursday. That was up from 2,229 reported in the state the week before.

In California alone, more than a million people have applied for unemployment benefits this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. And in NY, the domestic epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, a rush of people seeking jobless claims last week crashed the state's labor department website.

In February, the Labor Department reported that unemployment had reached a 50-year low of 3.5 percent.

That number was five times greater than in any single weekly period of new filings since record-keeping began in 1967 - and it points to what many expect will be a dramatic increase in the jobless rate, possibly even into double digits later this spring.

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