2 mil­lion more ap­ply for job­less ben­e­fits

Last week’s fil­ings bring the out­break’s to­tal to 38.6 mil­lion.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - As­so­ci­ated press

WASH­ING­TON — More than 2.4 mil­lion peo­ple ap­plied for U.S. 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 down­turn.

About 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 La­bor De­part­ment said Thurs­day.

An ad­di­tional 2.2 mil­lion peo­ple sought aid un­der a new fed­eral pro­gram for self­em­ployed, con­trac­tor and gig work­ers, who are now el­i­gi­ble for job­less aid for the first time. These fig­ures aren’t ad­justed for sea­sonal vari­a­tions, so the govern­ment doesn’t in­clude them in the over­all num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions.

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-to-June quar­ter. That would be by far the worst 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.

Dur­ing April, U.S. em­ploy­ers shed 20 mil­lion jobs, eliminatin­g a decade’s worth of job growth. The un­em­ploy­ment rate reached 14.7%, the high­est since the De­pres­sion. Mil­lions of other peo­ple who were out of work weren’t counted as un­em­ployed be­cause they didn’t look for a new job.

Since then, 10 mil­lion more laid-off work­ers have ap­plied for job­less ben­e­fits. Fed­eral Re­serve Chair­man Jerome H. Pow­ell said Sun­day that the un­em­ploy­ment rate could peak in May or June at 20% to 25%.

Across in­dus­tries, ma­jor em­ploy­ers con­tinue to an­nounce job cuts. Uber said this week that it will lay off 3,000 em­ploy­ees, on top of 3,700 it has al­ready cut. Vice, a TV and dig­i­tal news or­ga­ni­za­tion, an­nounced 155 lay­offs glob­ally last week.

Pub­lish­ers Quartz and Buz­zFeed, Conde Nast and the com­pany that owns the Econ­o­mist also an­nounced job cuts last week.

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