More than 33 million jobless Americans have now made claims in the past seven weeks.
The latest figures from the US labor department come ahead of the first official monthly report on the American jobs market since the pandemic triggered lockdowns across the country. In March, the official unemployment rate in the US was 4.4%, close to a 50-year low, but economists predict it could now be as high as 20%, a level unseen since the 1930s Great Depression.
The pace of layoffs has overwhelmed state unemployment systems across the country. Over a million people in North Carolina have now made unemployment insurance benefit claims, equivalent to 20% of the state’s workforce. Some four million have applied in California and the state’s jobless benefits fund is “very close” to running out, governor Gavin Newsom said this week.