4/03: MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY

Initial unemployment claims soar again to nearly 6.65 million in weekly report

In the week ending March 28, initial unemployment claims were 6,648,000, an increase of 3,341,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The previous week’s level was revised up by 24,000 from 3,283,000 to 3,307,000.



March planned job cuts jump to highest level since January 2009

March job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers surged 292 percent from February’s total of 56,660 to 222,288. It is the highest monthly total since January 2009, when 241,749 cuts were announced. March was the first month to report job cut announcements specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The March figures include job cuts announced by specific companies in the United States and tracked by Challenger, but does not include the hundreds of thousands of workers who were furloughed that month.



Auto sales drop sharply in March due to stay-at-home orders

Stay-at-home orders prompted by the spread of COVID-19 led to a sharp drop in auto sales for both March and the first quarter of 2020. Domestic sales for the month of March alone fell 30 percent to estimated annual rate of 9.0 million.



March Consumer Confidence Index falls to 120.0 due to sharp decline in short-term outlook

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index declined sharply in March — falling from 132.6 to 120.0 — due to a deterioration in the short-term outlook. The Present Situation Index remained relatively strong, reflective of an economy that was on solid footing, and prior to the recent surge in unemployment claims. However, the intensification of COVID-19 and extreme volatility in the financial markets in March increased uncertainty about the outlook for the economy and jobs.



Gallup: 29 percent of employed Americans report negative job impacts from pandemic

Nearly three in 10 employed Americans now say that their employer has cut jobs, reduced hours or frozen hiring as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, marking an 18-percentage-point increase since mid-March. Part-time workers are more likely than those employed full time to report these negative effects on their workplace.