More than 33.5 million jobless claims in six weeks

More than 33.5 million workers, or 22% of the United States workforce, have applied for unemployment benefits in the last six weeks due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported this Thursday. the Department of Labor.

The Government, which will release the data on the April unemployment rate this Friday, said today that last week 3.16 million people began the process to receive unemployment benefits, compared to 3.84 million the previous week.

Before the effect of the pandemic on economic activity began to be felt in March, for months the weekly average of applications for unemployment benefits stood at 700,000 procedures, the lowest figures since the indicator was created in 1967.

The weekly figure, which peaked at 6.86 million at the end of March, has been gradually declining. The four-week average of requests, which compensates for weekly variations, fell to 4.17 million in the week ending May 2, compared to an average of 5.03 million the previous week.

The data had an optimistic echo in the opening of operations in the stock markets where the Dow Jones Industrial Index rose 1.5%, the Standard & Poor 500 1.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 1.5 %.

For their part, people who were already receiving the benefit in the week ending April 25, rose to a record 22.6 million, 15% of the benefit-eligible workforce, compared to 18 million in The last week.

Official data shows that 43% of the dismissed workers were approved to receive unemployment benefits.

The request was also approved for 20 percent of the small companies that asked to benefit from a protection program for salary payments, businesses that represent between 10 million and 16 million workers.

Analysts expect unemployment figures in April to reflect in all their starkness the effects of the economic slowdown caused by the social distancing measures and business closings taken to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

After posting a 4.4% rate in March, some analysts estimate that unemployment may have risen to 16% in April.

The employment outlook contrasts with the boom that for several months and until February had the United States with an unemployment rate of around 3.5%, the lowest in half a century.

Although the numbers of applications for unemployment benefits and people who already receive the benefit continue to be high, the weekly rate of new procedures has decreased, indicating that the wave of layoffs may be decreasing while half of the States of the country resume the activities of shops, restaurants and other businesses.

In response to the figures released, a group of Republican senators today sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking that the "pause" in immigration declared by the White House include a ban on workers entering the country on temporary work visas.

"Congress should focus on jobs," Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri and one of the signatories to the letter, said in a Twitter message. "The fired must be rehired. Even in those parts of the country where workers cannot physically return to employment, we can give them the security that they will regain their jobs," he added.

Jorge A. Bañales


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