- Weekly jobless claims are set to hit a second straight record as the coronavirus outbreak further freezes the US economy, experts surveyed by Bloomberg said.
- The median reading from the 46 economists surveyed was that Thursday’s jobless-claims report would reach 3.5 million, slightly higher than the record 3.3 million last week.
- The gloomiest projection was 6.5 million, while the lowest was 800,000.
- Claims in the week ended March 28 are likely to include spillover from last week’s report and filings driven by the Senate’s $2 trillion stimulus package that bolsters unemployment benefits by $600 a week.
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Weekly unemployment-insurance claims are set to post a second straight record as the coronavirus outbreak tears deeper into the US economy, experts surveyed by Bloomberg said.
Data scheduled to be released Thursday morning will reveal how many Americans filed jobless claims for the week that ended on March 28. The economists’ median estimate was 3.5 million, a dire escalation of how hard the US has been pummeled by the outbreak.
Last week’s report showed that 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, which was quadruple the record set in 1982 and double Bloomberg’s consensus estimate.
The latest estimate is a median reading from 46 surveyed economists. The highest projection among them was 6.5 million claims, while the lowest was 800,000. The survey’s mean estimate was 2,700 weekly claims higher than the median figure.
The previous release was the first to capture a sharp increase in layoff activity fueled by the outbreak and suggested that its economic fallout would be far worse than expected. Several states’ unemployment-registration websites crashed under the unprecedented user load, and Thursday’s data could include some spillover from those who were unable to file that week.
The passage of the government’s $2 trillion stimulus package could also add to the weekly total. The fiscal relief bill expands jobless benefits by an additional $600 a week for four months. The increased support could bring new claims from people who didn’t file before President Donald Trump signed the bill into law on Friday.
Jobless claims have served as one of the most relevant data releases for tracking the pandemic’s sudden hit to economic activity. Upcoming monthly reports are likely to post relatively small changes, as they cover only the beginning of March, before the outbreak spread further and prompted widespread quarantines and business closures.
Purchasing managers’ indexes have also painted an ominous picture of how quickly the coronavirus outbreak slowed key industries. IHS Markit’s index covering the US service and manufacturing sectors slipped to 40.5 in March from 49.6; it was a record low for the metric and its steepest decline since data collection began in 2009. Service-sector employment tanked at its fastest pace since last October, according to IHS Markit.
“Jobs are already being slashed at a pace not witnessed since the global financial crisis in 2009 as firms either close or reduce capacity amid widespread cost-cutting,” said Chris Williamson, the firm’s chief business economist.
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