281,000 filed for unemployment last week

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As novel coronavirus cases rise in the United States, so will joblessness, with more than a million expected to lose their jobs by the end of March, economists say.

American workers getting laid off at an unprecedented pace is a dramatic turnaround from February when the unemployment rate was near a record low. The Labor Department reported Thursday that 281,000 people applied for unemployment last week, up 33 percent from the prior week.

On the same day, U.S. markets were poised for more losses with the Dow Jones industrial average futures calling for losses of more than 500 points at the open, despite late-night announcements of a 750 billion euro bond-buying program by the European Central Bank and a special lending facility by the Federal Reserve to backstop money market mutual funds.

Ball State University economist Michael Hicks predicts this month could be the worst for layoffs in U.S. history especially for the hardest-hit industries: travel, hospitality, retail and restaurants.

“Though we don’t have data available on benefits, it is near certain these workers are in occupations well known to have lower incidence of sick days, stable work hours and other forms of workplace benefits,” Hicks said in a comment emailed to The Washington Post. “This makes staying home from work and accessing medical treatment (or even diagnosis) difficult for infected workers. And, given the types of tasks performed by these workers, it is difficult for co-workers to maintain appropriate social distances, increasing the transmission of the virus.”

Source : The Washington Post

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