The U.S. Labor Department (DOL) reported on Thursday that  3.3 million Americans filed for jobless claim benefits in the last week – more than five times the previous record high. The data is a grim indicator of the coronavirus’s economic toll.

According to a news release from DOL, “In the week ending March 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 3,283,000, an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week’s revised level. Those amounts mark 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.”

Monthly non-farm payrolls are the most important economic indicator for the financial markets. These figures come before the implementation of the $2 trillion stimulus plan passed by the Senate on Wednesday. The House passed the measure on Friday afternoon.


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Before the pandemic, the U.S. economy was boasting a decade-long trend of job growth. A record-low number of people, barely 200,000, had applied for benefits, a mere three weeks ago.

The figures, which were released by the U.S. Department of Labor by far surpass the highest number of unemployment claims recorded for a single week in history. DOL has been collecting data and statistics on the matter since 1976. The record-blasting claims are attributed to the coronavirus.

“During the week ending March 21, the increase in initial claims are due to the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts,” the DOL reported.

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