Washington, April 24 (IANS) The number of initial unemployment claims in the US reached 4.4 million last week as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the nation, raising the five-week total to over 26 million, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

In the week ending April 18, the number of people filing for US unemployment benefits decreased by 810,000 to 4.4 million, Xinhua news agency quoted the Bureau as saying on Thursday.

The newly released number came after the figure spiked by 3 million to reach a record 3.3 million in the week ending March 21, surged by 3.34 million to reach 6.87 million in the week ending March 28, reached 6.62 million in the week ending April 4, and then fell to 5.2 million in the week ending April 11.

The new report also showed that the four-week moving average, a method to iron out data volatility, increased by 280,000 to reach 5.8 million.

COVID-19 “continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment”, the Bureau noted.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 11.0 per cent for the week ending April 11, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from the previous week’s unrevised rate, the report showed.

According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics’s semiannual Global Economics Prospects outlook released earlier this month, the US output is expected to shrink by 8.0 per cent in 2020, and the unemployment rate will probably peak around 20 per cent in the early summer.

As of Friday morning, the US reported 869,170 coronavirus cases, with 49,954 deaths, the highest tallies in the world.

–IANS

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