Coronavirus Job Losses Now Top 36 Million

May 14, 2020 by Dan McCue
A woman looks at signs at a store closed due to COVID-19 in Niles, Ill., Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

WASHINGTON – Nearly 3 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total job losses since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in mid-February to roughly 36 million, the Labor Department said Thursday.

An additional 842,000 people applied for aid through a separate federal program set up for the self-employed and gig workers, bringing last week’s total to 3.8 million.

Last week’s pace of new applications for aid is four times the record high that prevailed before the coronavirus struck hard in March.

Last week the government also reported the nation’s unemployment rate reached 14.7% in April, the highest rate since the Great Depression.

Most economists have forecast that the official unemployment rate could hit 18% or higher in May before potentially declining by summer.

As recently as February, the unemployment rate was just 3.5%, a half century low.

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