Here’s the latest news on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the economy. For more on financial resources available during the pandemic, click here.
Markets continue their uptick after stimulus bill passage
U.S. financial markets marched higher Thursday morning despite the soaring unemployment numbers.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 400 points, or about 2%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both up approximately 2%.
Stocks saw back-to-back gains on Wednesday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, lawmakers announced they reached a deal on a $2 trillion stimulus package to help buoy the economy amid the pandemic.
U.S. equity markets have see-sawed for weeks as the COVID-19 outbreak sows uncertainty among investors. All three major U.S. indices have plunged into bear market territory amid the pandemic.
Record number of Americans applied for unemployment benefits
A record number of workers — 3.28 million — filed for unemployment claims in the week ending March 21, according to U.S. Department of Labor data released Thursday.
That’s an increase of 3 million from the previous week.
Among the hardest hit sectors was the service industry, and particularly accommodation and food service. Nearly every state cited COVID-19 as the reason for the high number of claims.
Health care and social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation, transportation and warehousing/manufacturing industries were also heavily impacted, the DOL said.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced thousands of businesses to close amid government-mandated stay-in-place orders.
The staggering figure comes as the unemployment rate was near a 50-year low just weeks ago.
The previous record for weekly unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.
Thursday’s unemployment filing is three times the total number of people employed by the major U.S. corporations — Apple, Target, General Motors, Boeing and McDonalds — combined.
“The coronavirus outbreak is a truly unprecedented event in American economic history, flash-freezing the economy by forcing businesses to shut down and putting millions of American workers out of jobs,” Glassdoor’s senior economist Daniel Zhao said in a statement Thursday.
“Most historical comparisons of this scale are inadequate. The closest would be natural disasters like major hurricanes,” he added. “However, as today’s report shows, the coronavirus outbreak is economically akin to a major hurricane occurring in every state around the country for weeks on end.”