Nearly 10 Million People File for Unemployment as Coronavirus Decimates the US Labor Market

Over the last two weeks, nearly 10 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus continues to decimate the U.S. labor market.

According to the Labor Department, more than 6.6 million people applied for jobless claims last week alone, coupled with the 3.3 million claims already filed during the week ended March 21. That figure was already a surge of 3 million from the prior week and far greater than the previous record high of 695,000 claims in October 1982.

The government agency once again attributed the grim numbers to COVID-19, which has sickened 216,700 people in the country and killed at least 5,100. It added that states indicated coronavirus-induced impacts across a range of industries, led by accommodation and food services.

“Many states continued to cite the health-care and social assistance, and manufacturing industries,” read the release, “while an increasing number of states identified the retail and wholesale trade and construction industries.”

Footwear and apparel retailers have been particularly hard hit: Over the past couple of weeks, department stores, fashion and footwear brands, and specialty retailers have temporarily shuttered their doors across the country amid the outbreak. A growing list of industry players that paid their workers during an initial two-week closure — including Macy’s, DSW, Nordstrom, Gap and Steve Madden — have since announced furloughs, layoffs and/or pay cuts for members of their executive and senior leadership teams.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus package intended to aid businesses, individuals, and state and local governments as the pandemic takes hold. The deal includes $250 billion in checks to individuals and families, $250 billion in jobless insurance benefits, $350 billion in small business loans and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.

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