Speed Reads

'it's going to get exponentially worse'

Last week's spike in unemployment claims was worse than any during the Great Recession

The number of unemployment insurance claims in the United States has risen by 70,000 in just one week, but economists warn the worst is yet to come.

The Labor Department on Thursday reported 281,000 new unemployment claims for the week ending on March 14, an increase of about 70,000 from the week prior, per Politico. This comes as the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on the U.S. economy and forces business to lay off workers, and as the Dow Jones Industrial Average erases just about all of its gains over the past three years.

Economist Paul Krugman notes this spike is worse than any week during the Great Recession, although he writes that since the data is not up to date and is actually from a week ago, the "next report will be much worse." According to Forbes, the quickest weekly jump in unemployment claims during the Great Recession was 14 percent, but this week's jump was 33 percent.

"It's more than double anything we saw on a percentage basis during the height of the Great Recession, and it's going to get exponentially worse, much as the testing reveals the virus is spreading,” economist Diane Swonk told CNBC. "We could see it up to 600,000 by next week."

Indeed, Politico writes that "reports from unemployment insurance offices around the country indicated the real explosion in claims began this past weekend, and continued unabated this week."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly warned lawmakers this week that if no action is taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. unemployment rate could reach 20 percent, although he said Wednesday, "we're not going to let that happen."