The relentless surge of US jobless figures is expected to grow by another 3 million when official data is released on Thursday, bringing the total to 33 million Americans laid off in under two months.
Economists also expect that once the US Labor Department to report is published, the following day’s unemployment rate data will spike sharply.
Barclays chief US economist Michael Gapen said: “It’s accurate to say the unemployment rate moved higher than many had expected. We think it will be 19% in April.”
The US national shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has had a startling effect on joblessness across the US witch factories and retailers laying of millions of workers in a few short weeks.
In the week ended 25 April, 3.8 million Americans filed for jobless claims and the figure was higher than what economists were expecting. Over the last six weeks, 30 million Americans have filed for jobless claims. This has led to protests across the country calling for the reopening of the economy, despite top US scientists saying risks to health still remain high.
To put that figure in perspective, the US economy has erased all job gains since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Over the last six weeks, jobless claims have been in millions every week. Even at the height of the global financial crisis, the jobless claims in any week did not surpass the million mark.
Barclays Gapen is also skeptical about how well the US Government’s Paycheck Protection Program (or PPP) is working.
He said, “The unemployment rate is telling you it’s not as successful as we had hoped it would be. Programs like the PPP were expected to keep workers on payrolls. So far, that wasn’t the case.”