The Labor Department reported a dramatic spike in the number of Americans filing initial unemployments claims. The consensus had been 3.1 million, however, the actual number was 6.6 million. U.S. weekly jobless claims doubled for the week ending March 28 from last week’s total of 3.3 million. (This figure was revised upward by 24,000.)
The current number of Americans now out of work due to the coronavirus shutdown now stands at 10 million.
These numbers, as one would expect, are unprecedented. Prior to this, the highest number of initial unemployment claims was 695,000 in 1982. The next highest was recorded in March 2009, during the Financial Crisis, when the number came in at 665,000.
The 6.6 million figure has been adjusted for seasonal fluctuations. It might be more appropriate to look at the unadjusted figure of 5.8 million. According to CNBC, some economists consider this to be more relevant “due to the unusual impact the coronavirus-induced shutdown has had on the U.S. economy.” Additionally, CNBC reports:
The 4-week moving average, “which smooths fluctuations, was 2.054 million, up 327,250 from aw eek ago and the highest since Jan. 14, 2017.”
Every state reported an increase in claims for the week ending March 21. The biggest in terms of total filings were Pennsylvania (362,012), Ohio (189,263) and Massachusetts (+141,003). The smallest gains came in South Dakota (1,571), West Virginia (2,671) and Vermont (+3,125).
Michael Feroli, the chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan, told CNBC he had been expecting a “pretty gnarly number.” Their forecast had been 3.5 million. “I wouldn’t want to tell fairytales about why not to worry about it. It’s possible we could see large numbers for a couple weeks.”
When the report was announced, Dow and S&P futures, which had been trading higher gave up their gains. The markets (at 9:45 am EDT) are trading slightly lower (from 0.09%-0.34%).