U.S. Unemployment Claims Hit Record 3.28 Million Last Week Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Medical workers stand next to a
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U.S. unemployment claims last week hit a historic 3.28 million, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday, as the economic devastation of the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold.

The figure shattered the previously record of weekly jobless claims from October 1982 of 695,000, and economists expect the unemployment situation to grow even worse in the weeks ahead. In early trading Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed over 2% after the Senate passed a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill late Wednesday aimed at stabilizing the U.S. economy.

The off-the-charts job-loss claims reported Thursday for the week ended March 21, as entire industries have ground to a halt, were more than twice analyst consensus estimates of 1.5 million, CNBC reported. A Goldman Sachs report last week predicted 2.25 million unemployment claims, while Citigroup had pegged upwards of 4 million.

Entertainment is among hardest-hit sectors reflected in the latest jobless claims, the Labor Department said. Virtually every Hollywood production temporarily suspended, theme parks and concert venues closed, and movie theaters shuttered nationwide — leaving hundreds of thousands of people out of work.

The Labor Department previously reported that initial jobless claims from two weeks ago had spiked 30%, to 281,000 for the week ended March 14. Moody’s Analytics has projected as many as 6 million job losses for the month of March 2020, per Fortune, but it’s possible the numbers could be higher.

Analysts haven’t fully scoped out the consequences of the economic recession resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, but based on the evidence emerging so far the picture is stark.

Big media conglomerates are facing on average an 11% hit to revenues and a 19% plunge in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization over the 2020-2022 period, according to a report by Cowen & Co. released Wednesday. “We expect U.S. advertising spend to rise 6-7% annually in ’22-’25, but don’t expect a significant step-up in any given year, hence somewhat permanent damage from COVID-19 event,” Cowen lead analyst John Blackledge wrote.