In an astonishing announcement on Thursday, the Department of Labor (DOL) reported that 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment for the week ending March 28. 

The DOL announcement noted that this stunning rise in Americans needing unemployment assistance marks the highest level of initial unemployment claims in American history. 

Last week, The Daily Citizen reported that 3.3 million Americans had filed for unemployment. This new announcement brings the total number of Americans who have filed for unemployment in the past two weeks to around 10 million.

According to CNN, Citi economist Andrew Hollenhorst says that the 10 million newly unemployed Americans translates to around 6% of the 165 million people in the workforce, thereby indicating a 9.5% unemployment rate. In early-March, the unemployment rate sat at a just 3.5%.

The 6.6 million new claims comprise more than 3,000% of pre-pandemic levels. 

On March 24, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis released a dire report predicting that for the second quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate could reach 32%, or 52.8 million unemployed Americans. If this prediction comes true, the unemployment rate would outstrip the Great Depression when it reached a high of 24.9% in 1933. 

U.S. News & World Report states that, “Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the record number of initial claims filed in a single week sat at 695,000, reached in October 1982. Thursday’s 6.6 million claims are nearly 10 times that amount.”

Reuters reported that, “Applications for unemployment benefits peaked at 665,000 during the 2007-2009 recession, when 8.7 million jobs were lost.” This indicates that in the last two weeks, more Americans have lost their jobs than did during the entire Great Recession of 2008. 

Economists are warning that we have not yet hit a peak of unemployment claims. Heidi Shierholz, policy director at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, told Reuters that based on GDP forecasts, she believed nearly 20 million Americans would be laid off or furloughed by July 2020.

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