Mon | May 25, 2020

Nearly 39 million have sought US jobless aid since virus hit

Published:Thursday | May 21, 2020 | 9:50 AM
A woman looks at signs at a store closed due to COVID-19 in Niles, Illinois, Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 2.4 million people applied for US unemployment benefits last week in the latest wave of layoffs from the viral outbreak that triggered widespread business shutdowns two months ago and sent the economy into a deep recession.

Roughly 38.6 million people have now filed for jobless aid since the coronavirus forced millions of businesses to close their doors and shrink their workforces, the Labour Department said Thursday.

The number of weekly applications has slowed for seven straight weeks, and last week the figures declined in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Yet historically, they remain immense — roughly 10 times the typical figure that prevailed before the virus struck.

“While the steady decline in claims is good news, the labour market is still in terrible shape,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial.

The continuing stream of heavy job cuts reflects an economy that is sinking into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated this week that the economy is shrinking at a 38% annual rate in the April-June quarter.

That would be by far the sharpest quarterly contraction on record.

Nearly half of Americans say that either their incomes have declined or they live with another adult who has lost pay through a job loss or reduced hours, the Census Bureau said in survey data released Wednesday More than one-fifth of Americans said they had little or no confidence in their ability to pay the next month’s rent or mortgage on time, the survey found.

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