The number of workers filing new claims for unemployment unexpectedly jumped for the week ended March 27. The rise to 719,000 initial claims for unemployment was a surprise after last week when the total dropped to a revised 658,000. That was the lost weekly total since the pandemic shutdowns started in March 2020.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected the week’s new jobless claims to dip to 675,000. An additional 237,025 Americans filed new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for gig and self-employed workers.
Some 18.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits for the week ended March 13. That was down 1.5 million from the prior week, according to the Labor Department. A part of the drop was a result of some unemployment benefit programs ending.
Tomorrow, April 2, the government will release the March jobs number. The consensus is that the official unemployment rate will fall to 6.0% from 6.2% in February.
On the other statistical front, new cases of the coronavirus jumped 12% in the past week. About 16% of the U.S. population, nearly 53 million people, had completed vaccination as of Thursday.