Nearly 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefit in the past two weeks
The 6.6 million people who asked for help in the last week set a new record and reflect the impact of containment measures for the coronavirus
More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, setting for the second week in a row a historic record marking the enormous impact on the labor market of population containment measures taken to curb contagions and contain the spread of the coronavirus. If we add the data for this week and last, published by the Department of Labor, almost 10 million people have requested the benefit in 15 days. So far, the worst week had been in 1982, when 685,000 requests were registered.
Each new piece of data contributes to drawing an unprecedented scenario, in terms of depth and speed of impact. More people have applied for unemployment benefit in the past two weeks than during the first six months of the Great Recession.
The closure of restaurants, hotels, non-essential stores throughout the country, as well as the practical paralysis of travel, have triggered the layoffs. But there have also been job losses in the production and transport sectors.
Analysts warn that the true number of people who have become unemployed is even higher than the Department of Labor figures indicate, as many unemployed have not yet been able to process their claim for benefits and many States have not yet been able to process all applications. It is also feared that the number will continue to grow in the coming weeks, as the federal rescue package, valued at $ 2.2 trillion and approved last week, will allow contractors and freelancers to apply for the benefit.
Unemployment benefits, which offer temporary financial assistance to self-employed workers who become unemployed, function as an indicator of layoffs. But the government has not yet released the official unemployment rate. In February, the unemployment rate was 3.5%, the lowest in the last fifty years. But experts fear that, in view of the unemployment benefit data released since the explosion of the coronavirus crisis, the unemployment rate could reach 10%, something only seen in October 2010, when it was hardest to hit the Great Recession.
The United States is today the country with the most confirmed cases of Covid-19, with a total of 200,000. More than 4,800 people have died from the coronavirus, a figure that has quadrupled in the last week, and today exceeds the confirmed number of deaths in China, where the pandemic began last December.
Information about the coronavirus
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– Guide to action against the disease
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