The wave of layoffs that has engulfed the US economy since the coronavirus struck forced 5.2 million more people to seek unemployment benefits last week. Roughly 22 million have sought jobless benefits in the past month—easily the worst stretch of US job losses on record. All told, nearly 12 million people are now receiving unemployment checks, roughly matching the peak reached in January 2010, shortly after the Great Recession officially ended, per the AP. All businesses deemed nonessential have been closed in nearly every state as the economy has virtually shut down, with deep job losses inflicted across nearly every industry.
Those layoffs have spread beyond service industries such as restaurants and hotels into blue-collar and professional occupations, including software programmers, construction workers, and sales jobs. Up to 50 million jobs are vulnerable to coronavirus-related layoffs, economists say—about one-third of all positions in the United States. Some economists say the unemployment rate could reach as high as 20% in April, which would be the highest rate since the Great Depression of the 1930s. By comparison, unemployment never topped 10% during the Great Recession.
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