The jobs shakeout is so large that it has wiped out all the American job gains since the financial crisis of over a decade ago and suggests that unemployment there has already soared to 17%.
The latest figures show that more than 5m Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total in the month since the pandemic throttled the US economy to 22m and effectively erasing a decade worth of job creation.
Initial jobless claims of 5.2m in the week ended April 11 followed 6.6m the prior week. The four-week sum compares with roughly 21.5m jobs added during the expansion that began in mid-2009.
The latest figures suggest a US unemployment rate currently around at least 17% -- far above the 10% the US reached in the wake of the recession -- in a sign that the effects of shutdowns have spread well beyond an initial wave of restaurants, hotels and other businesses.
Global stock markets nonetheless headed higher -- including the Iseq index of Irish shares -- as investors instead continued to focus on hopes that parts of the global economy would be reopened earlier than once thought.
“Another 5m jobless claims in the US helps hammer home the message for markets, yet the prospect of easing lockdown restrictions have helped lift the mood,” said online broker IG.
Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium reported that retail sales slumped 27% in the two weeks to early April.