New Jobless Claims Climb Sharply, Hit Worse-Than-Expected 770,000


New unemployment claims totaled 770,000 last week (on a seasonally adjusted basis), up roughly 6% from the previous week’s 725,000 claims, which were revised upwards, and worse than economists had feared.

Key Facts

In the week ending March 13, another 282,394 people filed claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which extends benefits to self-employed workers not eligible for traditional state programs, according to the weekly data released Thursday.

About 18.2 million people were still receiving some form of government unemployment benefit in the week ending February 27—shockingly high compared to the 2.1 million total claims filed in the comparable week in 2020.

That figure is greater than the roughly 10 million Americans considered unemployed due to the startling number of people who’ve dropped out of the labor force because they’re no longer looking for work.

Economists were expecting about 700,000 new jobless claims last week, meaning the already precarious labor market recovery–which many experts predict may take years to return to prepandemic levels–could be worse than feared.

Big Number

6.2%. That was the unemployment rate in February, barely budging from about 6.3% in January as employment fell in state and local government education, construction and mining. Meanwhile, the number of permanent job losers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, remained roughly flat at 3.5 million–2.2 million higher than one year prior.

Crucial Quote

“The labor market is nowhere near prepandemic levels,” James McDonald, the CEO of Los Angeles-based Hercules Investments, said in a note last week. “Even with trillions of dollars of monetary and fiscal stimulus, it’s going to take time to completely correct the Covid-19-driven unemployment crisis.”

Further Reading

Inflation—Not Covid-19—Is Now The Biggest Risk To Markets, Bank Of America Survey Shows (Forbes)

Federal Reserve Looking Ahead To Higher Inflation As Economy Rebounds, But It Won’t Raise Rates Yet (Forbes)

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