Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits surged last week to a two-year high as the coronavirus pandemic forced employers to start laying off workers.
Jobless claims rose by 70,000 to 281,000 in the week ended March 14, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday.
- The total topped the median estimate in Bloomberg’s survey and may be poised to surge into the millions next week as much of the economy shuts down to fight the pandemic. Pantheon Macroeconomics Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson estimates 2 million claims for next week’s report. “It appears from state numbers that the order of magnitude increase compared to normal is about 10,” he said Thursday.
- The four-week moving average for filings rose by 16,500 to 232,250, the highest since January 2018.
- Elsewhere on Thursday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s survey of factories showed conditions in the area deteriorated in March by the most on record, indicating the heavy toll on demand from the virus battle extends to more of the nation’s producers.
- Continuing claims, reported with a one-week lag, were little changed at 1.7 million in the week ended March 7.
- The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.2%.
–With assistance from Kristy Scheuble.
— By Katia Dmitrieva (Bloomberg)