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Trends: Unemployment Hits 30 Million

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Some 3.8 million American workers who just lost their jobs applied last week for unemployment benefits, bringing a record number of layoffs during the coronavirus crisis to about 30 million in a month and a half.

This story by Jeffry Bartash originally appeared in Market Watch.

The weekly pace of layoffs has slowed since peaking at 6.9 million at the end of March, but millions more are still expected to apply in the next several weeks. And many are still waiting for states to process and approve their claims.

The unprecedented surge in layoffs as business shutdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the unemployment rate to the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Pinning down the true level of unemployment isn’t easy, but senior economist Sal Guatieri of BMO Capital Markets points out that about 19 percent of the pre-crisis labor force has applied for benefits.

The official jobless rate will be released next week with the Labor Department’s employment report for April.

Last week, the states of Florida, Georgia, California, Texas and New York reported the biggest increases in new claims, according to the Labor Department.

The stunningly large number of job losses each week appears to be winding down, but the damage has been deep and widespread.

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