Weekly US jobless claims 4.4 mn, virus total hits 26.4 mn
Job losses from the coronavirus pandemic deepened last week with data Thursday showing another 4.4 million US workers filed new claims for jobless benefits, bringing the total to 26.4 million since mid-March.
The total for the week ending April 18 is a drop from the initial claims filed in the previous three weeks, but remains at staggeringly high levels due to government-ordered shutdowns to stop the pandemic from spreading and intensifying.
The outbreak in the US has grown into the world’s largest, with deaths reaching 46,583 on Wednesday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in the US House of Representatives were set to vote on a $480 billion coronavirus relief package that builds upon a massive $2.2 trillion CARES act passed in late March.
The new package would provide another $320 billion for small businesses to keep their doors open and pay their workers, after the initial $349 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program was drained in just two weeks.
The claims figures for last week show that the layoffs continued for a fifth week, despite the help from Congress.
Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics noted the decline but said it is not falling as quickly as he had hoped. He called the total “horrendous.”
“We anticipate a further decline in claims next week, but the rate of fall of Google searches for ‘file for unemployment’ has slowed, suggesting it will take several more weeks before claims drop below one million,” Shepherdson said.