The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumped last week as employers were forced to cut jobs following weakening demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits, a key barometer for layoffs, climbed by 70,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That marked the highest level for initial claims since Sept. 2, 2017, when it was 299,000.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a key measure of labor market trends, rose by 16,500 to 232,250 last week.
The virus is expected to increase layoffs as companies face supply chain disruptions and fading demand for goods and services.