By Amanda Pampuro
(CN) — As the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on economies around the world, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 6.6 million people applied for unemployment insurance benefits over the last week — roughly 2% of the country’s population.
This more than doubles the 3.2 million record set last week. Both states and the federal government point to one underlying culprit: the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unionized hospitality workers apply for unemployment benefits at the Hospitality Training Academy on March 13, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
“Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus,” the 10-page report explains. “States continued to identify increases related to the services industries broadly, again led by accommodation and food services. However, state comments indicated a wider impact across industries.”
Alaska has the highest rate of unemployment insurance with 2.8% of its population applying for benefits, followed by Connecticut at 2.7% and New Jersey at 1.6%.
With 362,012 claims for unemployment insurance, Pennsylvania was hit the hardest, citing “layoffs in the transportation and warehousing, accommodation and food services, administrative, support, waste management, and remediation services, and health care and social assistance industries.”
Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas and California also processed more than 100,000 applications each.
“It was very clear that economic activity was going to have to be curtailed to slow the spread of the virus,” said Jeffrey Zax, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Boulder.
“The long-term consequences remain to be seen, if we manage it so people can go back to their places of work and return to their work in a certain reasonable amount of time recovery should occur quickly,” Zax explained. “If we let businesses close, the recovery will be slower.”
This story is developing…