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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

U.S. unemployment filings surged to 281,000 in the week ended March 14 — a two-year high and an increase of 70,000 from the week prior — according to Labor Department data released Thursday.

Why it matters: There have been widespread layoffs, as municipalities began shutting down restaurants, bars and large public gatherings due to the coronavirus outbreak — but, given that many of those economic hits only came in the last few days, this batch of data doesn't provide the full scope of their impact.

  • While economists at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute expect the economy to lose 3 million jobs by this summer, they point out that there is often a lag between when people are laid off and when they apply for benefits.
  • This is "just the leading edge of the labor market impact of the coronavirus shock, " EPI's senior economist and director of policy Heidi Shierholz says. "No one should take comfort if these numbers are relatively modest."

The big picture: "Given the job destruction that we are witnessing, policymakers and investors should anticipate first-time claims to soar toward the five-year moving average of 242,300 in the next few weeks," Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at tax advisory firm RSM, says in a note to clients.

Go deeper

Jack Dorsey to step down as Twitter CEO

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Jack Dorsey will step down as CEO of Twitter, the company announced Monday. He will be succeeded by CTO Parag Agrawal.

The big picture: Dorsey is also the CEO of financial payments company Square, which he co-founded in 2009, and has become a crypto evangelist in recent years.

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

3 hours ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."

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