A record high number of people applied for unemployment benefits last week as layoffs engulfed the United States in the face of a near-total economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.
The surge in weekly applications for benefits far exceeded the previous record set in 1982. Claims soared to 3.3 million and economists say layoffs are sure to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a deep and painful recession. The previous high was about 695,000 on Oct. 2, 1982.
Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting and car makers are forced to close factories. Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they're forced to cut jobs to save money.
On a lighter note, the U.S. economy grew at a 2.1 percent rate in Q4 with economists predicting a sharp drop ahead.