WASHINGTON — The wave of layoffs that has engulfed the U.S. economy since the coronavirus struck forced 5.2 million more people to seek unemployment benefits last week and Colorado set a staggering new record for claims in a single week.
Roughly 22 million people have sought jobless benefits in the past month — easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record.
In Colorado, initial claims reached a new record high last week. More than 105,000 people filed for assistance. That eclipses the number of claims filed over all of 2019.
Over the last four weeks, 232,000 Coloradans have sought benefits, more than 7% of the state’s workforce. The state had a record low unemployment rate of 2.5% in February before the pandemic sunk its teeth into economies across the nation.
All told, roughly 12 million Americans are now receiving unemployment checks, roughly matching the peak reached in January 2010, shortly after the Great Recession officially ended.
All businesses deemed nonessential have been closed in nearly every state as the economy has virtually shut down. Deep job losses have been inflicted across nearly every industry. Some economists say the unemployment rate could reach as high as 20% in April, which would be the highest rate since the Great Depression of the 1930s. By comparison, unemployment never topped 10% during the Great Recession.
The U.S. government is poised Thursday to announce the latest alarming report on the layoffs that have been sweeping across the economy since the coronavirus outbreak struck hard last month.
Several million more people are expected to have filed for unemployment benefits last week, after nearly 17 million applied for aid in the previous three weeks. It is the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record.
All businesses deemed nonessential have been closed in 48 states as the economy has essentially shut down. Some economists say the unemployment rate could reach as high as 20% in April, which would be the highest rate since the Great Depression.
Layoffs have spread beyond services industries such as restaurants and hotels into blue-collar and professional occupations, including software programmers, construction workers and sales jobs. Up to 50 million jobs are vulnerable to coronavirus-related layoffs, economists say — about one-third of all positions in the United States.
Denver Post staff writer Joe Rubino contributed to this report.
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