6.6 million more Americans file for unemployment amid COVID-19 financial crisis

(WASHINGTON) — An additional 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Thursday’s figure adds to the some 10 million people that have already applied for unemployment insurance amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced non-essential businesses across the country to close.

This means in just three weeks more than 16 million people have filed weekly jobless claims.

Some analysts say the number of claims will only get worse as businesses remain shuttered and the pandemic continues to clobber the U.S. labor market.

“This week’s unemployment insurance claims are yet another indication of the recessionary dynamics created by the coronavirus pandemic,” Moody’s Investor Services Senior Vice President Robard Williams said Thursday.

“The stimulus from the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve will soften the shock to some degree,” Williams added. “But with business restrictions and closures still in place, the coming weeks will likely reveal more people facing income and job losses, further trimming household spending and economic activity in the second quarter.”

The unprecedented influx in applications has created a number of issues for those in dire need of benefits, and Americans across the country report ongoing struggles in applying for unemployment insurance.

The service industry was among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, the DOL said last week. Other industries that have been heavily impacted include health care/social assistance, manufacturing, retail and construction.

Just a few months ago, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was near a 50-year low.

“The unrelenting weekly deluge of UI [unemployment insurance] claims shows how abruptly the coronavirus outbreak has plunged the labor market into crisis,” Glassdoor’s Senior Economist Daniel Zhao said in a commentary Thursday. “In its first month alone, the coronavirus crisis is poised to exceed any comparison to the Great Recession.”

Zhao added that “the new normal” for unemployment claims “will be the canary in the coal mine for how long effects of the crisis will linger for the millions of newly unemployed Americans.”

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