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Unemployment skyrockets with 6.6 million new claims in the past week; coronavirus lockdowns set to last at least another month

We've never seen anything like this

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The economic fallout from COVID-19 lockdowns continues to spiral seemingly out of control, and Thursday's jobless numbers show that an additional 6.6 million Americans filed new unemployment claims from March 22 through March 28.

Last week, the Department of Labor report showed 3.3 million people filed new jobless claims, a shocking number that exceeded the previous record by nearly 3 million. This week, the record was doubled — and some economists believe even 6.6 million to be an underestimation. NBC News reported:

Still, some economists said the actual number of unemployed could be much higher, since many applicants had experienced trouble filing a claim, as state labor departments became overwhelmed.

"These are numbers that are way out of the range that we have seen," Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America, told NBC News. "During the financial crisis, we were seeing a peak of about 650,000 [first-time applications] a week."

The numbers are alarming enough on their own, but they become more ominous in light of the fact that public health experts are predicting that the worst of the coronavirus outbreak in America is yet to come, and the lockdowns in place in almost every state are likely to extend at least until the end of April.

And even the April 30 end date suggested by President Donald Trump isn't set in stone, rather, it's an estimate based on data models of a date when the situation can be re-evaluated and businesses potentially reopened.

Last week, Congress passed a stimulus bill to send money to individuals and families, increase unemployment benefits, and create financial means for small businesses and corporations to keep people employed. However, it could be several weeks before those benefits reach those who need them.

The Department of Labor is set to release full month of March unemployment numbers Friday, and NBC News reported that surveyed economists expect to see that the economy lost about 100,000 jobs, ending about a decade of job creation.

One last thing…
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