U.S. jobless claims dip at end of February, no sign so far of layoffs tied to coronavirus

U.S. jobless claims dip at end of February, no sign so far of layoffs tied to coronavirus
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Initial jobless claims fall 3,000 to 216,000, still near 50-year low

The numbers: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell slightly at the end of February, suggesting the economic damage from the coronavirus is still in the early stages and hasn’t caused companies to lay off any workers.

Initial jobless claims slipped by 3,000 to 216,000 in the seven days ended Feb. 29, the government said Thursday. The figures are seasonally adjusted.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 217,000 reading.

So far there’s little sign the COVID-19 epidemic has spurred companies to pare payrolls, but economists are watching closely to see if layoffs start to rise. More and more companies say their businesses have been disrupted by the viral outbreak, potentially hurting sales and profits.

New applications for unemployment benefits give a sense of how many people are losing their jobs. They touched a 50-year low of 193,000 in April 2019 and have hovered in the low 200,000s since then.

What happened: Raw or unadjusted jobless claims rose the most in New York, California and Virginia. The biggest declines took place in Massachusetts, Illinois, North Carolina and Rhode Island.

Source: MarketWatch

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