Jobless claims jump by 70,000

Number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumps by 70,000 last week as virus begins to impact labor market

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits surged last week by 70,000, indicating that the impact of the coronavirus was starting to be felt in rising layoffs in the job market.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for benefits, a good proxy for layoffs, rose by 70,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 last week.

Both the one-week rise and the total number of applications were far above the levels seen over the past year as the country’s unemployment rate fell to a half-century low of 3.5%.

A proposal from Treasury has suggested spending $500 billion to provide checks for Americans who have suffered economic harm because of the virus.