Coronavirus causes spike in jobless claims, though markets stabilize slightly

The Department of Labor said in a report that first-time unemployment claims jumped by 70,000 to 281,000 for the week ended March 14. (Pixabay)

While global financial markets continue to respond unfavorably to the COVID-19 crisis, statistics from the U.S Department of Labor paint a discouraging picture of how coronavirus is already impacting unemployment.

The department reported Thursday morning that the number of initial claims filed for the week ending March 14 was 281,000, a jump of 70,000 from the previous week’s 211,000. According to the report, this was highest level of first-time claims since September 2, 2017, when 299,000 claims were filed.

With more cities shuttering businesses such as restaurants and bars, the numbers are likely to rise rapidly.

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Meanwhile, global financial markets remain depressed as investor confidence continues to erode as the crisis deepens.

According to an Associated Press report, the S&P (Standard and Poor's) index was down 0.2% in mid-morning trading Thursday, which could be considered relative stability after fluctuating between a 1.4% gain and 3.3%. According to the report, the index had eight straight days of fluctuating between 4.9% and 12%. By early afternoon on Thursday, the S&P and other major indices were all trending up.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial average fell by 1,300 points, or 6%, with the S&P index down 5% and Nasdaq down 6%. At one point, the Dow fell by more than 2,000 points, causing the index to fall below the closing level on day before President Trump took office on January 20, 2017.

According to AP and other online reports, the New York Stock Exchange has announced it would temporarily close its trading floor and moving to all-electronic trading beginning Monday, after two employees tested positive for coronavirus. The exchange is also now medically screening all personnel who enter the building.

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