The number of people who filed claims for unemployment insurance in the US last week surged to an all-time high as the coronavirus pandemic spurred layoffs across the country.
US weekly jobless claims for the week ending March 21 totaled 3,283,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday, exceeding the consensus analyst forecast of 1.5 million. That was up from 281,000 in the previous week, which already marked a two-year high.
The latest number is by far the largest on record for a single week, exceeding the record of nearly 700,000 newly filed jobless claims set in 1982.
“Record is not even the right word here,” Martha Gimbel, an economist at Schmidt Futures, told Business Insider in an interview. “These numbers are literally incredible.”
For context, Gimbel pointed out that for the week ending March 7, the total number of people on unemployment insurance in the US was 1.7 million, meaning more people filed for it last week than were in the program.