More than 6.65 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the US last week, the latest official figures to highlight the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the American economy.
The federal labor department announced that a new record number of people sought benefits after losing their jobs in the week ending 27 March as long linesformed at unemployment offices, phone lines jammed and websites collapsed under the weight of claims across the US.
Some 3.3 million had filed for unemployment the previous week, bringing total claims to 9.95 million for the two weeks.
More people have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks than filed in the last 10 months.
“I never thought I’d see such a print in my lifetime as economist,” said Thomas Costerg at Pictet Wealth Management, who had the highest forecast in survey, at 6.5 million.
Claims are likely to stay elevated as more states announce stay-at-home orders, and it would be “not unthinkable” to see a 20% unemployment rate, more than double the high that followed the last recession, he said.
Every state reported an increase in claims for the week ending March 21.
The biggest in terms of total filings were Pennsylvania (362,012), Ohio (189,263) and Massachusetts (141,003).
The smallest gains came in South Dakota (1,571), West Virginia (2,671) and Vermont (3,125).
At a profession level, the biggest groups looking for work are bartenders, athletic coaches and wait staff, according to CareerBuilder.
Taxi and truck drivers along with food prep workers and supervisors also are high on the list.
“Further job loss expected in coming weeks is very likely to push unemployment above 10%, even taking account of a potential steep decline in the labor force participation rate, as some displaced workers are neither furloughed nor looking for work,” Citi economist Andrew Hollenhorst wrote in a note.