The number of U.S. workers filing for new unemployment benefits for the week ending March 21 shot up to 3.28 million, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Department of Labor. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The previous high was 695,000 in October of 1982.
The most recent increase eclipses the previous week’s total of 281,000. The unprecedented spike—the highest level for initial claims on record—is due primarily to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.
Layoffs have begun to surge, especially in the transportation, restaurant and hospitality sectors, as the coronavirus spreads across the country and nonessential businesses have been ordered to close. The weekly jobless claims are the most-timely economic indicator for measuring the impact of the virus on the U.S. economy.
For the full report from the Department of Labor, click here.