• Nearly 3.3 million initial unemployment claims were made in the US last week.
  • The jump in seasonally adjusted claims is the largest in US history.
  • The rise is attributed to the impact of COVID-19.

Nearly 3.3 million initial unemployment claims were made in the US last week, according to new Department of Labor data. That figure represents a jump of 3 million from the previous week's level, and the highest level of seasonally adjusted claims in the country's history.

The previous high? 695,000.

The Department explained that the increase in initial claims is due to the impact of COVID-19. Service industries, in particular accommodation and food services, were especially badly hit.

This chart shows just how extraordinary the jump is.

(Look for the near vertical line on the far right.)

unemployment US initial claims
The vertical line on the far right shows the steep jump in jobless claims in one week in the US.
Image: Federal Reserve Economic Data

$2 trillion package

The news came shortly after the US Senate passed a $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill. The package represents the largest economic stimulus in US history.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

The US is battling the impact of the virus, with nearly 70,000 confirmed cases (correct as of 14.30 GMT). The World Health Organization warned earlier in this week that the US could become the next epicentre of the pandemic.