WASHINGTON – The U.S. government is expected Thursday to issue another bleak report on the layoffs that have cut through America’s workforce since the coronavirus forced businesses across the country to shut down starting last month.
The Labor Department will likely report that several million more people filed for unemployment benefits last week, after more than 26 million applied for aid in the previous five weeks. All told, the layoffs add up to the largest streak of U.S. job losses on record.
Across nearly every industry, nonessential businesses have closed, and workers have been sent home with no clear idea of when or whether they might be recalled. An economic recovery may be months or years off, though governors in a few states have begun allowing some businesses to reopen under certain restrictions.
For April, economists say the unemployment rate could go as high as 20%. That would be the highest rate since the Great Depression, when it reached 25%.
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