Another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the US Department of Labor, as American workers continue to suffer from devastating job losses, furloughs and reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic.
It was the second largest number of initial unemployment claims in history, since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967.
Altogether, roughly 16.8 million American workers, making up about 10% of the US labor force, have sought aid in the form of jobless benefits in just the prior three weeks alone. About 7.5 million workers received their second week of benefits or more last week.
Job losses during the Great Recession for example — as deep as they were — came at a much slower pace. It took two years for 8.6 million Americans to lose their jobs in that crisis. This time around, as businesses across the country close to slow the spread of coronavirus, the unemployment crisis has been far more acute, condensed into just a few weeks.
Economists are expecting job losses will continue, with the unemployment rate peaking in the double digits sometime in the next few months, up from 4.4% in March. Bank of America economists predict employers will cut between 16 million and 20 million jobs, with the unemployment rate peaking at 15.6% between now and June. If that's the case, it could take at least a couple years for unemployment to return to its pre-pandemic levels.
Another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the US Department of Labor, as American workers continued to suffer from devastating job losses, furloughs and reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic.