‘US jobs haemorrhaging’ 26m now unemployed

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Unnemployed workers queue in California

‘THE US economy is haemorrhaging jobs at a pace and scale never before recorded,’ Scott Anderson, chief economist at the Bank of the West in San Francisco said yesterday, adding: ‘It compares to a natural disaster on a national scale.’

He was referring to the record 26 million Americans who have sought unemployment benefits over the last five weeks. The new figures released yesterday confirm that all the jobs created during the so-called ‘employment boom’ were wiped out in about a month as the coronavirus pandemic savaged the economy. Jobless claims jumped 4.2m in a week.

Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report from the Labour Department will add to a growing pile of increasingly bleak economic data. It will come amid rising protests against nationwide lockdowns to control the spread of Covid-19, the potentially lethal respiratory illness caused by the virus.

President Donald Trump, who is seeking a second term in the White House in November’s general election, has been anxious to restart the paralysed economy. Trump on Wednesday applauded steps taken by a handful of Republican-led states to begin reopening their economies, despite warnings from health experts of a potential new surge in infections.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totalled 4.2 million in the week ended April 18.

A figure that would have been seen as unimaginably high less than two months ago, it would be lower than the previous week’s 5.245 million.

Estimates in the survey for yesterday’s data were as high as 5.50 million new claims.