U.S. jobless claims hit record levels on Thursday as economists warned that the unemployment rate could reach its highest levels since the financial crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Newsweek reported.
New data released by the Department of Labor this morning revealed that 3.3 million initial claims for unemployment benefits were made in the week ending March 21.
The Labor Department said the spike in jobless claims was “the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims” in history, up from a previous high of 695,000 in 1982.
It added that “nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts,” and said the services industry had been particularly damaged by the outbreak.
“Additional industries heavily cited for the increases included the health care and social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing industries,” the department wrote.
The record-shattering jobless claims data came a week after the Labor Department recorded 281,000 applications for unemployment insurance in the week ending March 14.
Shortly after it published its data, the agency asked state officials not to reveal the exact number of claims in their jurisdictions until it published today’s report.
But some state authorities ignored the labor department missive, with Wisconsin revealing that it was hit by more than 100,000 claims in just nine days after Michigan published data showing jobless claims in the state surged by 2,100 percent.