COVID-19 Shoots Jobless Claims Stateside to Record Numbers

It's something most market watchers could see coming; record layoffs have ensued among American workers laid off and kept at home by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Labor Department showed weekly jobless claims soared to a record-breaking 3.28 million.

The number shatters the Great Recession peak of 665,000 in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982. The previous week, which reflected the period before the worst of the coronavirus hit, was just 282,000.

Consensus estimates from economists surveyed by Dow Jones showed an expectation for 1.5 million new claims, though individual forecasts on Wall Street had been anticipating a much higher number. The surge comes amid a crippling slowdown brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

Businesses across the country have shut down amid a policy of social distancing aimed at keeping the virus’s growth in check. Individual states have reported websites crashing amid a rush to file.

Jobless claims are considered the quickest window into current economic conditions. Most data reports in recent weeks reflect periods before the worst of the coronavirus hit and have been showing the U.S. in relatively good shape heading into the crisis.