Unemployment Claims Rise to 3.3M in Wake of COVID-19

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Jobless claims in the U.S. rose to 3.3 million for the week ending March 21, CNN reports.

This figure represents the highest number of initial jobless claims in history since the Department of Labor started recording the number in 1967. Previously, the highest number of initial jobless claims was just under 700,000 in October 1982.

In the week before this historic figure, 282,000 people filed unemployment claims, CNN reports.

According to the article, some states are having trouble accommodating the number of claims. The New York Department of Labor has had to add server capacity and hired more than 65 additional staff members to process the new claims. In Florida, the Department of Economic Opportunity announced plans to hire 100 extra staff members to answer calls and guide applicants through the unemployment process.

Economists sought to find historical equivalents to the most recent employment numbers.

“Most historical comparisons of this scale are inadequate,” says Daniel Zhao, senior economist at job-search website Glassdoor. “The closest would be natural disasters like major hurricanes. However, [this] report shows, the [COVID-19] outbreak is economically akin to a major hurricane occurring in every state around the country for weeks on end.”

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