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U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Leap to Record 6.65 Million

Published 04/02/2020, 08:28 AM
Updated 04/02/2020, 08:31 AM
© Reuters.

By Noreen Burke - The number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits surged to a new record 6.65 million last week, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday, as the full impact of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market became apparent.

The increase dwarfed the prior week’s figure of 3.28 million and eclipsed the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982.

The number of people already receiving benefits increased to 3.029 million, the report said.

Ahead of the report, Goldman Sachs had revised up its estimate for jobless claims to 6 million, adding it expected claims to remain very elevated in the coming weeks.

"Jobless claims will be the timeliest hard data point for assessing the depth of the recession and catching the start of the recovery," Goldman Sachs economists wrote in a note to clients.

The numbers come ahead of the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report for March on Friday. Due to the timing of the survey period for the government report it likely preceded the worst of the impact on the labor market.

Economists still expect the figures to show a loss of 100,000 jobs.

A report from payroll processor ADP on Wednesday showed that the U.S. private sector shed 27,000 jobs in March, but took March 12 as its cut-off date, before the worst of the impact of the pandemic on the U.S. labor market was seen. It was still the first decline in private sector hiring since September 2017.

--Reuters contributed to this report

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