Unemployment across the nation is climbing rapidly as a result of the coronavirus shutting down wide segments of the American economy.
One chart from Bespoke Investment Group illustrates a skyrocketing number of searches on Google for "unemployment benefits," which is correlated with people filing for them.
Economists are warning a recession could already be underway.
Unemployment across the nation is surging as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus. The spread of the virus has forced an abrupt halt of various sectors of the economy, notably the travel, service, and entertainment sectors.
One chart from Bespoke Investment Group, a New York-based market analysis organization, lays out the extent of the massive losses now underway in the nation's labor market. It's illustrated below.
Courtesy of Bespoke Investment Group
Over the last five years, the unemployment rate in the US trended downward, the product of an economic boom that fueled robust hiring and brought new people into the labor force. Last month, unemployment fell to 3.5%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was among the lowest rates in half a century.
Since 2015, unemployment filings correlated strongly with overall searches on Google Trends, according to the chart, suggesting that digital searches for "unemployment benefits" preceded people seeking them out after job losses.
But that steady drop in unemployment is almost certainly coming to an end as restaurants close their doors, and hotels and airlines confront a plunge in travel bookings. Economists are warning that the coronavirus is severely damaging the economy and likely in a recession already.
The chart illustrates the skyrocketing number of unemployment claims reported in the media and by searches on Google.
"Numerous states with diverse geographic and economic drivers as well as demographics are reporting thousands or tens of thousands of new filings in days, with more likely to come," Bespoke said in its report, forecasting that the next week could see over 1 million workers file for unemployment.
As a result, early unemployment data emerging from states is showing government safety nets coming under severe strains.
On Monday and Tuesday, for example, Pennsylvania recorded over 100,000 unemployment claims. That's compared to 14,000 logged in the state during the first week of March.
In New York and Oregon on Monday, the flood of people seeking out benefits ended up crashing the states' websites.
Early figures from the Labor Department released Thursday also confirmed the deluge. Jobless claims in the US rose by 70,000 to 281,000 for the week ending March 14, barreling past estimates from economists projecting 220,000 filings.
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