Arkansas initial jobless claims almost tripled last week

Daniel Fowler
April 2, 2020

Claims between the period of March 21 and March 28 blew past the previous week's record of 3.3 million, according to the weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department published on Thursday.

A more complete picture of the labor market will come with the release of the March Employment Situation report on Friday, April 3.

More than 6.6 million Americans filed for new jobless claims in the week that ended March 28, doubling the record amount seen the previous week, when the COVID-19 crisis was beginning to wallop the USA economy.

"Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus", the report says. "Almost every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus", the agency said.

U.S. Department of Labor officials said in the Thursday news release that IL was among the states with the highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 14, with a 2.1% unemployment rate.

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"We've never seen anything like this", said Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist at the University of Minnesota. She said that by-county unemployment claim data from the state is embargoed until then because the state must first receive and confirm numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor. Estimates in the survey were as high as 5.25 million. "The loss would be enough to boost the unemployment rate from roughly 3.5% to 12.5%, which would be its highest rate since the Great Depression".

But as the number of coronavirus cases rise and businesses face uncertainty when they will be able to reopen, job losses will continue to grow.

"The data suggests that we may be in for a long spring and possibly still dealing with it in the summer", he wrote in a research note.

Initial claims are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak distorting economic activity.

But even so, analysts warn the record low U.S. unemployment rate is likely to surge into the double-digits as early as April.

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