US unemployment rates hit historic highs under coronavirus lockdown

The figures translate to a real unemployment rate of 20.6 percent, the highest level since 1934.

On the week ending April 18, another 4.4 million Americans filed unemployment claims.

It is the fifth consecutive week of over 3 million claims.

The US department of labor released the shocking statistics on Thursday.

They wrote that April’s average weekly unemployment claims rates were 5.7 million.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the US economy is expected to contract 5.9 percent this year.

In just five weeks, the surge in unemployment claims has exceeded the number of jobs created in the near-decade of expansion that ended in February.

A Pew Research Center survey estimates that 43 percent of households have been hit by a coronavirus-related job loss or pay cut.

The US government has responded to the crisis with more than $2 trillion in relief, expanding eligibility for unemployment benefits and increased the payments.

Richard Flynn, UK managing director at financial service firm Charles Schwab, told the BBC that the worst of the claims may have passed.

He said: “While this week’s 4.4 million jobless claims are staggering, there are signs that the pace of layoffs has reached its peak.

“The key questions at this point are when can the economy reopen and what happens when it does?”

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It comes as the US saw a record drop in business activity.

Manufacturing, Services and Composite industries have all seen major contractions due to the pandemic.

Purchasing managing index figures held the industries at 36.9, 27 and 27.4 respectively, with scores below 50 indicating contractions in value.

IHS Markit, which gathered the data, said: ”Private sector firms in the US signalled an unprecedented decline in business activity in April, with manufacturing and service sector companies registering marked contractions of output amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019.”

President Donald Trump spoke at the White House press briefing praising the extended stimulus package.

He also suggested that an “injection” of disinfectant into coronavirus victims could be effective.

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning.

“As you see it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

Doctors have poured cold water on the suggestion, saying disinfectants like bleach are poisonous and dangerous when mishandled.

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