Labor Dept.: U.S. jobless claims rise to 281,000

A sign is displayed Monday at the entrance to a Long John Silvers restaurant in Granite City, Ill., announcing takeout orders only in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Food service workers have comprised a share of new unemployment claims, officials said Thursday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

March 19 (UPI) — More than 280,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week — an increase of 70,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The department said the total was the highest number of claims since just under 300,000 claims were filed in September 2017.

“The increase in initial claims are clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus,” the Labor Department said in a statement.

“A number of states specifically cited COVID-19 related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service-related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in the transportation and warehousing industry, whether COVID-19 was identified directly or not.”

Workers in service jobs like restaurants and catering, who are not able to telecommute, accounted for a good share of the new claims.


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