U.S. unemployment claims surged by over three million for the week ending March 21 to 3.283 million, a record, according the the Department of Labor, and its the first official reckoning of the devastating toll the coronavirus pandemic is having on the labor market. It cited entertainment as one of the industries hardest hit. Every facet of the business has slowed or halted with shows halted, movie theaters shuttered and furloughs and layoffs from talent agencies to production crews.
“This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series,” the DOL said in its weekly report of claims by state. The previous high was 695,000 in October of 1982.
The state of California had massive jump with 186,809 claims filed, from 57,606 the previous week.
“The increase in initial claims are due to the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts. States continued to cite services industries broadly, particularly accommodation and food services. Additional industries heavily cited for the increases included the health care and social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing industries,” the department said.
The weekly reports are calculated by state. Monthly unemployment figures – due out next Friday – are also broken out by sector.
The U.S. had 282,000 claims the previous week of March 14 and 215,00 claims the same week last year.
The numbers came as Congress is on the cusp of approving a $2 trillion-plus rescue package for businesses and consumers.