US employment suffers steepest decline since Great Recession

US initial jobless claims have surged to 26.5 million in just five weeks, wiping out the 22 million jobs lost during the Great Recession.

The new jobless claims for the week ending 18 April was released on Thursday and registered at 4.43 million. The US labour department said these new job losses were mainly driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The data over the past three weeks shows that the number of new jobless claims has been declining each week. Last week the number of claims stood at 5.2 million, and in the week prior to that, it was at 6.6 million.

Economists had projected claims to come in at 4.5 million, Bloomberg reported. A Reuters poll suggested it would come in at 4.1 million.

Reuters reported that the US economy had created 22 million jobs from 2010 until February this year. The latest data suggests these new jobs have been wiped out in just five weeks.

Economist at NKC African economics Jee-A van der Linde said that going forward, the volume of new claims is expected to “drift lower”. “We expect about 24 million jobs will be lost when the employment data is reported for April,” he said.

The rand held steady on the news, at the R19/$ level. This ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement this evening on measures to lift restrictions on economic activity.

Compiled by Lameez Omarjee

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