US unemployment claims surged by nearly 3mn last week

New York

Washington, (Asian independent) The number of initial unemployment claims in the US surged to nearly 3 million last week as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to sweep the nation, the Labor Department reported.

In the week ending on May 9, the number of Americans filing for US unemployment benefits decreased by 195,000 from the prior week to 2,981,000, the sixth weekly decline in a row but higher than economists’ expectation for 2.5 million, reports Xinhua news agency.

With the latest numbers released on Thursday, more than 36.5 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic forced widespread business closures in mid-March.

The figures came after the Labor Department reported last week that US employers cut a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, and the unemployment rate soared to a record 14.7 per cent.

“Under the assumption that states do not need to lock down again, the month of May should set the high watermark for the unemployment rate near 20 per cent,” Jay H. Bryson, acting chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities, said on Thursday.

“But we forecast that the unemployment rate will recede to only 8 per cent or so by the end of this year, and that it will still exceed 6 per cent at the end of 2021. In other words, it likely will take a number of years for the labour market to fully recover from its pandemic-induced meltdown,” he said.