A staggering 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last three weeks, with weekly new claims topping 6 million for the second straight time last week as the novel Coronavirus outbreak relentlessly savages the economy.
For the week ending March 21st, 3.3 million people filed new unemployment claims, easily shattering the previous record set in 1982 of 695,000. Last week, that astounding figure doubled, as 6.6 million people filed claims for the week ending March 28 — a figure that was revised upward to 6.9 million in the new release.
“Today’s report continues to reflect the purposeful sacrifice being made by America’s workers and their families to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” said Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia in a statement.
Last week’s moderation in claims is probably temporary as more than 95 percent of Americans are now under “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders. Reports are mounting of state employment offices being overwhelmed by a flood of applications as more and more people are furloughed or laid off entirely.