Last week, another 3.8 million people lost their jobs in the US. The coronavirus pandemic continued to batter the economy. The pace of layoffs appears to be slowing. However, an unprecedented 30 million Americans have now sought unemployment benefits in just six weeks. The numbers are still growing.
On Thursday, the latest figures from the labor department were released. It showed a fourth consecutive week of declining claims.
Reports suggest that the figures are still undercounting the number of people out of work. For some states, systems were overwhelmed by the massive volume of applications. They are still dealing with backlogs of claims.
A notable black spot has been Florida. The state had received more than 1.9 million claims as of Tuesday. It processed just over 664,000. It is one of the lowest rates in the nation.
According to the latest Department of Labor figures, the insured unemployment rate was 12.4% for the week ending 18 April. It is the highest percentage recorded since the department started releasing those figures. It is the number of people currently receiving unemployment insurance as a percentage of the labor force.
The bureau of labor statistics will release its official jobs report for April next Friday. The monthly report is regarded as a more accurate snapshot of the jobs market, though it often lags the weekly report.
In March, the jobless rate rose 0.9%. It is the largest single-month change since January 1975, to 4.4%. The pandemic shutdowns started in late March. So the figures for April will be crucial to paint a more accurate picture of their impact on the jobs market. As per JP Morgan’s predictions, unemployment could reach 20%.
As states begin to open up for business once more, the pace of layoffs may slow further. However, some have warned that relaxing quarantine rules could trigger another wave of infections and shutdowns. Significant damage has already been done to the economy by the virus.
Kevin Hassett has warned that by June, the jobless rate in the US could spike to between 16% and 20%. He is a senior economic adviser to Donald Trump.