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More Than 22 Million Americans Are Now Unemployed Due to Coronavirus

More than 5.2 million people filed for unemployment last week as the coronavirus pandemic further devastates the United States labor market.

Over the last four weeks, the Labor Department reported a staggering 22 million jobless claims — nearly wiping out all job gains made since the Great Recession. This includes the 6.6 million applications for the week ended April 4, the previous week’s record 6.9 million and the 3.3 million already filed during the week ended March 21.

Economists anticipated that 5 million Americans would file for unemployment last week. Prior to the widespread lockdowns instituted in mid-March, claims hovered at just over 200,000 each week.

In the first monthly jobs report since the crisis swept the country, the Bureau of Labor Statistics two weeks ago noted the first decline in payrolls in nearly a decade: U.S. employers slashed 701,000 payrolls in March — the first drop since September 2010 — while the unemployment rate jumped to 4.4%.

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Footwear and apparel retailers have been particularly hard hit. The retail sector lost 46,000 jobs, as department stores, fashion brands and specialty retailers temporarily shuttered their doors across the country. A growing list of industry players that paid their workers during an initial two-week closure have since announced furloughs, layoffs and/or pay cuts for members of their executive and senior leadership teams.

Most of the data used in the jobs report was collected in the first half of the month, just before the states and localities across the country imposed broad shutdowns and stay-at-home orders to help stem the spread of COVID-19, which has sickened more than 639,600 people in the U.S. and led to at least 30,900 deaths.

Federal aid is either currently or will soon be on its way to Americans who have lost their jobs. Some qualifying residents in New York and New Jersey have already received their first weekly payment of $600 — which is in addition to state benefits — as well as up to 13 weeks of extended benefits.

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