The coronavirus from China is currently keeping people worldwide from working. Seasonally adjusted U.S. jobless claims soared to 3.28 million last week amid the massive economic disturbance caused by the pandemic, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
This figure smashes the previous record of 695,000 in October 1982, and surpasses the Great Recession’s top number of 665,000 in March 2009. In fact, the week before this report, the number of U.S. jobless claims was just 282,000.
“This is a unique situation. People need to understand, this is not a typical downturn,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday morning on NBC’s “Today” show. “At a certain point, we will get the spread of the virus under control. At that time, confidence will return, businesses will open again, people will come back to work,” he added. “So you may well see a significant rise in unemployment, a significant decline in economic activity. But there can also be a good rebound on the other side of that.”
More specifically, the number of initial jobless claims in all 50 states and the District of Columbia rose last week. In fact, 10 states reported increases of more than 100,000 — with Pennsylvania coming in with the most at nearly 380,000.
According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, “until March, U.S. employers added jobs for a record 113 straight months, causing payrolls to grow by 22 million.” In other words, the U.S. labor market was cruising for nearly 10 years. And in just a few days, all of that ceased and now jobless claims are through the roof.
“We haven’t seen this big of a free fall before,” said Keith Hall, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and adviser to President George W. Bush, in that article. “Not even during the Depression … It’s really like an instant Great Recession.”
Nick Clarkson is a web editor at InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.