The coronavirus crisis continues to hit the job market in the United States, although new claims for unemployment benefits fell to 2.98 million from last week, figures that haunt President Donald Trump in an election year.

The number of people who first applied for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 9 fell by about 200,000 from the previous week, but was higher than analysts expected, according to data released Thursday. by the Department of Labor.

This quota is still far higher than any week prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The new data lead to 36.5 million jobs lost in the United States since the arrival of the pandemic in mid-March, a figure only comparable to the situation that the country experienced during the Great Depression almost a century ago.

These people who join the ranks of unemployment will influence the unemployment rate, which rose to 14.7 percent in April, registering a spectacular increase since before the crisis in February when it was at 3.5 percent.

The great confinement to try to stop the virus – for which there is no vaccine and the treatments are still experimental – generated 20.5 million jobs lost in April.

In an electoral dynamic, Trump celebrated the figures and said that “the United States is picking up the pace” and reiterated his criticism of China for handling the emergency, since the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year. past.

The White House, which until recently boasted of having the best economy in history, received the figures with resignation.

“It is still a hard figure, but better than we expected,” economic adviser Kevin Hassett told reporters. “The fact that we fell below 3 million suggests that the economy is rising and we expect that these requests will now begin to drop,” he added.

“The layoffs will continue”

On Wednesday, US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned that the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic to the US economy could be “lasting.”

At a time when the United States continues to be the country with the most deaths from the pandemic with more than 84,136 fatal cases, White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci warned Congress this week of the risks of hasty misconduct. .

The consultancy HFE estimated that as various states in the country begin to reopen their businesses, workers will once again find opportunities.

“However, new protocols for the virus will continue to restrict activity. (…) We think that layoffs will continue in the coming weeks, although at a slower rate,” they said.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled a new $ 3 trillion stimulus plan aimed at securing rent and mortgage payments.

This package joins several aid plans already approved for about $ 3 trillion, but its fate is uncertain as both the White House and the Republicans – who control the Senate – prefer to wait to see the effects of the previous measures.