U.S. weekly jobless claims soar to 6.64 million

The U.S. Department of Labor reported unprecedented weekly jobless claims for the second week in a row.

According to the data published by the DOL, seasonally adjusted weekly jobless claims from the week of March 28th spiked to 6.6 million. The figure tops the 3.2 million reported on March 21, which was a previous record. In a span of two weeks, jobless claims have combined to nearly 10 million incremental claims or 6% of the U.S. civilian labor force, according to FRED. To put this rapid deterioration in the labor market in context: the total number of claims in the last two weeks is close to the combined number of weekly claims over the prior 11 months.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is sounding the alarms about a massive uptick in unemployment as the coronavirus spread forces what could be months-long shut down on restaurants, hotels, and retail stores. 

Goldman Sachs, for instance, expects unemployment to hit 15% by mid-year. The investment bank, which revised its expectations for U.S. GDP growth and unemployment at the end of last month, said its new estimates "imply that a bit more than half of the near-term output decline is made up by yearend and that deal GDP falls 6.2% in 2020 on an annual average basis (vs. 3.7% in our previous forecast)."