Official job numbers for Canada will come out April 9, and are likely to be similarly dour, since we already know that nearly one million Canadians filed for unemployment insurance claims in a single week in March.
A record 206,253* new unemployment claims were filed with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development for the week ending March 28, bringing the two-week total of new claims to just over 362,000, as COVID-19 bore down on the state's workforce and businesses.
It's the second week in a row initial claims set an all-time high since the Labor Department began adjusting the numbers to account for seasonal variations.
The US Congress significantly expanded the unemployment benefits system in last week's $US2.2 trillion ($A3.6 trillion) economic rescue package. Jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, provide temporary financial assistance for workers who lose their jobs. Nearly 4,000 people in the country have died from the illness, according to a Reuters tally. According to a paper published on Wednesday by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, only 10.5 percent of the state's unemployed workers collect benefits, the lowest percentage of any state.
Economists said worsening job losses underscored the need for additional fiscal and monetary stimulus.
The government's weekly report, the most timely data on the economy's health, offered the clearest evidence yet that the longest employment boom in United States history probably ended in March.
"These are numbers that are way out of the range that we have seen", Michelle Meyer, head of USA economics at Bank of America, said. That translates into a 32.1 percent unemployment rate, or 8 times higher than the 3.5 percent to 3.6 percent of the past six months.
The coronavirus pandemic's disruptive impact was highlighted by a separate report from the U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday showing a collapse in Chinese imports, resulting in the U.S. trade deficit narrowing 12.2% to $39.9 billion in February, the lowest level since September 2016. Though relatively small, that loss would still end a record-long 113-month streak of job growth.
Goldman said it expected claims to remain very elevated in the coming weeks.
The jobless claims number is a stark warning of what may come Friday, when official numbers for jobs for the month of March are due.
The unemployment rate - which has been at a almost 50-year low of 3.5% - is expected to shoot up, with some estimates putting it at 15%.
In an emailed statement, the Atlantic Council's Director of Programs and Policy, Josh Lipsky, said: "Today's jobs report underscores the historic devastation that is happening in America's labor market".