New Unemployment Claims Soar to 3.28 Million

The number of U.S. workers filing for new unemployment benefits for the week ending March 21 shot up to 3.28 million, rocketing past the previous week’s total of 281,000. The unprecedented spike—the highest level for initial claims on record—is due primarily to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Department of Labor. Layoffs have begun to surge, especially in the transportation, restaurant and hospitality sectors, as the coronavirus spreads across the country and nonessential businesses have been ordered to close. The weekly jobless claims are the most-timely economic indicator for measuring the impact of the virus on the U.S. economy.