Washington (AFP)

Five million people could have registered as unemployed last week in the United States, nearing a third record after two weeks of historic highs in late March, and would therefore join the cohort of new job seekers.

In fact, 5 million people could have completed an allocation file between March 29 and April 4, analysts estimate.

The previous week had seen a historic record, with 6.65 million new job seekers.

In total over the last two weeks of March, 10 million people had registered for the first time, unprecedented.

And the queues are long in front of the country's employment agencies. In Miami, Florida, hundreds of people had to wait hours to fill out a paper file after the collapse of the dedicated website, stifled by the mass of requests.

"I haven't been working for almost two months. The store I worked in has closed," said Sara Santos, 42, who arrived at 7 a.m. and was still waiting in the sun at noon.

"I'm strangled, I have to pay for the car, I have to pay for the phone, how am I going to pay for that? Not counting the rent," worries Gabriel Rodriguez, 55, who has been patient for five hours.

American companies are in fact forced to lay off their workers, suffocated by the sudden drop in activity linked to containment measures intended to stem the pandemic of new coronavirus.

Small and medium-sized businesses can, however, since Friday, apply for a loan in order to be able to pay the wages of their employees and thus avoid dismissing.

This measure, which is part of the vast federal plan to support the economy, provides $ 350 billion in loans; a second tranche of 250 billion is under negotiation between Congress and the Trump administration, and could be adopted this week.

- Less lasting effects than in 2008 -

However, the negative effects of this crisis could be less lasting than those of the great financial crisis of 2008, said members of the monetary committee of the American Central Bank at their last meeting, the minutes of which were published on Wednesday.

"The current situation is not directly comparable to the financial crisis of the previous decade," they said.

Economists, however, remain pessimistic, while the rise in the unemployment rate to 4.4% in March could only be a prelude to what awaits the country from April.

Barclays analysts are even counting on 5.5 million new applicants for the past week: "According to our estimates, although demand has slowed compared to the previous week, unemployment figures continue to rise".

Because people who have lost their jobs are now adding people with Covid-19, those in quarantine or unemployed, as well as the self-employed.

Because everyone can, during this period of crisis, claim unemployment benefit, which was not the case before the pandemic. These social assistance measures were enacted into law as part of the broader federal economic support plan, and have the effect of swelling the numbers.

The virus has killed more than 14,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 420,000 people, according to a count by the American Johns Hopkins University, which references.

© 2020 AFP