Thursday, March 19, 2020

New Jobless Claims, Out This Morning

We're starting to see the first economic indicators since the country went on lockdown over the coronoavirus. This morning, the Labor Department's new report on unemployment claims filed last week jumped to 281,000 from 211,000 the week earlier. It was the highest number since September 2, 2017.

But more than the raw number, it's the rate of increase that's sobering. The 33 percent jump in weekly claims is the biggest ever one-week increase, aside from temporary disruptions from hurricanes and other natural disasters. It tops the one-week 14 percent jump during the 2008 financial crisis.

Companies are just starting to announce coronavirus-related layoffs, so the real damage probably won’t start showing through until next week’s count, which will entail the period through this Saturday. It's very possible that the economy has already entered recession.

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