After three consecutive weeks of jobless claims in millions, another 5.245 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending April 11, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. The recent figures give a clear picture of the country's shrinking economy owing to the coronavirus outbreak.
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs over the past few weeks, which have seen a sudden rise in weekly jobless claims. Thursday's figures are a bit worse than the 5 millions expected from economists polled by Dow Jones. Although President Donald Trump has expressed his intention to reopen businesses at the earliest, the total job losses over the past few weeks have already crippled the economy to a great extent.
US struggles as jobless claims soar
Jobless claims hit a new high with 5.245 million more Americans filing first times claims for unemployment insurance last week. The latest filings add to the 17 million Americans laid off in the previous three weeks. Since June 2009, the US economy added more than 20 million jobs. However, in the last four weeks, unemployment claims have reached more than 22 million, nearly wiping out all the job gains since the Great Recession.
Although the most recent figures, for the week ending April 11, are lower than the previous two weeks, it still gives a clear picture of the damage done by the coronavirus to the world's largest economy. With more people losing jobs, most US states have now implemented "shelter-in-place" orders.
For the week ended April 11, California witnessed the highest number of initial claims at an estimated 660,000 on an unadjusted basis, down from 918,000 the previous week. A few states were hit harder last week as massive backlogs continued to pile up. However, most states saw numbers declining from the previous week.
Crisis deepens for United States
Although millions of jobs have been lost over the past few weeks, the number of fresh claims has jumped lately because of measures taken to allow more workers to file claims. The new measures now include independent contractors and others who previously were not eligible for benefits.
Last week, US state officials said that the people who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak will start getting the enhanced benefits at the earliest. This includes a $600 weekly increase for up to four months. This is above the state benefits already in place. The enhanced jobless aid totals to $260 billion.
The latest filing of 5.245 million jobless claims comes a day after separate reports showed that US retail sales and factory output plunged in March. The decline in retail sales has especially darkened the tone as consumer spending is two-thirds accounts for the US economy.
That said, some economists believe that the numbers will steadily stat falling from previous highs in the coming weeks. Most of the big states showed declines from the previous week in benefit applications, according to unadjusted numbers. California's figures were down by 257,848 while Pennsylvania and Michigan's figures fell by 39,283 and 169,234, respectively. New York lagged some of the larger states in terms of filing, which saw an increase 51,498 to 395,949.