WASHINGTON (AP) – Jobless claims for Americans have reached a record high, as 3.3 million people filed last week in the face of a widespread economic shutdown due to the spread of the Coronavirus.
With the surge in applications more than quadrupling the previous record set in 1982, layoffs are expected to accelerate with collapsing revenues for restaurants, hotels, theaters, gyms, airlines and auto dealerships, leading to cuts and layoffs.
As job losses mount, some economists say the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10%.
With layoffs surging, the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill nearing final approval in Congress would provide a significant expansion of unemployment benefits for the millions who will lose jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. One provision in the bill would provide an extra $600 a week, on top of the unemployment aid states provide. Another would extend 13 additional weeks of benefits beyond the six months of jobless aid that most states offer.