More than 206,000 New Jersey workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, a grim confirmation of the severity of the coronavirus economic crisis. Construction across the state had 28,021 initial claims last week, up 438% from the previous week. The full effects of the surge in layoffs may not be reflected in the March employment report as the survey was conducted before the March 21 and March 28 surges in layoffs.
This is a historic high for weekly unemployment claims in the United States, amounting to almost twice as many as the previous week and almost ten times bigger than the pre-COVID-19 crisis record of 695,000, set in 1982.
The result far surpassed even the highest of estimates by economists, and reflected the growing damage to the USA economy as the pandemic worsens and the growing death toll prompts more states to impose lockdowns. Tens of thousands of people North Carolina now find themselves out of work, and many are trying to navigate filing an unemployment claim for the very first time.
The largest increases in first-time jobless claims last week were in Pennsylvania (+362,012), OH (+189,263), MA (+141,003), Texas (+139,250) and California (+128,727). He said administration continues action in addressing the impact on workers.
"I don't usually look at data releases and just start shaking", said Heidi Shierholz, former chief economist at the US Department of Labor and now policy director at the Economic Policy Institute.
"They are not slowing down", LeVine said in a news conference.
As a result, self-employed and gig workers who previously were unable to claim unemployment benefits are now eligible.
The layoffs are widespread across the US, according to state-by-state data reported with a one week delay. The January monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report from +16,600 to +16,000 jobs.
The US unemployment has hit a new high amid the coronavirus scare.
According to the DOL report, the COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims.