Last week it was reported that unemployment claims in the United States hit a historic high of 3.28 million, and now that number has doubled. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreck havoc on businesses, the Department of Labor revealed that 6.65 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28. California has been hit particularly hard, with the highest number of claims coming from the state at 878,727.
"This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series," said the Department of Labor in a statement. "The previous week's level was revised up by 24,000 from 3,283,000 to 3,307,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,612,000, an increase of 1,607,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 6,000 from 998,250 to 1,004,250."
The total number of claims in the U.S. across the past two weeks is sitting at almost 10 million. The entertainment and service industries are among those to have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, with a majority of movie theaters, TV and movie productions, and restaurants or cafes shuttering. Companies have struggled to adjust to the drop in revenue, resulting in layoffs and some CEOs forgoing their usual salaries.
As CNN points out, economists have described the increase in unemployment claims as "stunningly awful" and "a portrait of disaster."
Citi economist Andrew Hollenhorst has warned that the figure is set to get worse. "Further job loss expected in coming weeks is very likely to push unemployment above 10 percent, even taking account of a potential steep decline in the labor force participation rate, as some displaced workers are neither furloughed nor looking for work," he said.