WASHINGTON - A record 26 million Americans sought unemployment benefits over the last five weeks, confirming that all the jobs created during the longest employment boom in US history were wiped out in about a month as the novel coronavirus savages the economy.
The Labor Department said on Thursday 4.427 million more people applied for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, down from a revised 5.237 million the week before. The median expectation among economists in a Reuters poll was for claims to have fallen to 4.2 million last week, although estimates had ranged as high as 5.5 million.
The latest data brings the cumulative unemployment benefits claims to more than 26 million since the week ending March 21, representing about 16% of the labor force. The economy created 22 million jobs during the employment boom which started in September 2010 and abruptly ended in February this year.
Though weekly jobless filings remain very high, last week's data marked the third straight weekly decline, raising hopes that the worst may be over. Weekly claims appeared to have peaked at a record 6.867 million in the week ended March 28.