Unemployment claims continue to rise as COVID-19 puts people out of work

Millions in the United States are claiming unemployment

VICTORIA, Texas – Unemployment claims remained high last week at 6.6 million, the Labor Department reported, as massive job losses continued to pile up due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The claims, for the week ending April 4, flooded in as confirmed coronavirus cases approached 300,000 and as nearly every state ordered its citizens to stay at home. Economic forecasts that predict unemployment will exceed its historic 25 percent peak during the Great Depression are becoming routine, and the number of jobs lost in a mere three weeks now exceeds the 15 million that it took 18 months for the Great Recession to bulldoze from 2007 to 2009.

“In its first month alone, the coronavirus crisis is poised to exceed any comparison to the Great Recession,” said Glassdoor Senior Economist Daniel Zhao in a statement. “The new normal for UI claims will be the canary in the coal mine for how long effects of the crisis will linger for the millions of newly unemployed Americans.”

The jobless claims are mounting as the federal government struggles to release waves of aid to the economy and businesses shutter. The Federal Reserve on Thursday unveiled emergency programs that could dole out more than $2 trillion in loans to businesses of all sizes, as well as to struggling state and city governments.

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate clashed Thursday over a new aid package aimed at bolstering the $2 trillion economic rescue deal that lawmakers approved in March.

The 16.8 million unemployment claims, filed between March 15 and April 4, translate to more than one in 10 workers seeking jobless benefits. “We are nowhere near the end of this,” tweeted Heidi Shierholz, policy director at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “The labor market has been upended.”