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US cut 701K jobs in March as unemployment rate creeps past 4%

iStock/Gwengoat(NEW YORK) — COVID-19 is now not just a health crisis.  It is also a financial one as the U.S. grapples with a volatile stock market and rapidly increasing unemployment rate.  

The U.S.’s unemployment rate has risen to 3.5 percent to 4.4 percent, with the country laying off 701,000 jobs in March ahead of the pandemic.  These numbers are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Due to social distancing guidelines, businesses around the country have shuttered to comply with the new orders and prevent the further spread of the virus.  At least 45 states have adopted similar guidelines.

In addition, two major companies announced that they will be laying off their employees due to the ongoing pandemic: Under Armor and The Walt Disney Company.

Patrik Frisk,  the brand’s President and Chief Executive Officer, confirmed the company will lay off 600 people beginning April 12 and “until further notice.” 

“We do not take these decisions lightly and are doing all we can to minimize the impact on our teammates during this time. Because of the strength of our brand and the steps we have taken, we will weather this storm,” said Frisk.

As for Disney, the company will furlough “employees whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” starting April 19.  

A spokesperson for The Walt Disney Company confirmed that those furloughed will be able to receive full health care benefits as well as “an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance.” 

Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, sounded alarm bells on Friday when speaking about the economy.  He told reporters, “It’s going to get worse in the weeks ahead, there’s no question about it.  We have not seen the worst of it, I don’t want to sugarcoat it.”

In a Fox News interview, Kudlow was asked about the unemployment rate, which currently stands at 4.4 percent.  When asked if the U.S. could see a rate in the double digits, said Kudlow, “They’re going to look terrible in the weeks ahead. How much longer, I don’t really want to forecast … but there’s no question that it will be bad.”

Following Kudlow’s remarks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 350 points on Friday — or 1.7 percent — while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq shed 1.5 percent each.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

 

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