The rapid spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus, has wreaked havoc across the U.S, costing many Americans their jobs and financial security. It was announced today that 3.3 million people filed for unemployment claims last week, which set the record the most claims filed in a week.
“We may well be in a recession,” said Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in his first appearance on morning television on NBC’s Today show. “The first order of business is to get the virus under control and then resume economic activity.”
This news comes as some of the first data released recorded the economic fallout due to the coronavirus outbreak. Many companies were forced to lay off large portions of their workforce while some small business owners were forced to temporarily halt operations and numerous cities have issued lockdown orders. Prior to this, the most claims filed in a week was nearly 700,000 in 1982.
“In the whole history of initial claims, there’s never been anything remotely close to that,” Ben Herzon, executive director of IHS Markit, a business data and analytics firm told the New York Times. States are already having issues processing all the claims. Places like New York and Oregon had their systems crash because so many people were trying to apply at once.
Due to the widespread economic loss, the Senate passed the largest aid package ever on Wednesday to help struggling workers, businesses, and hospitals across the country during this unprecedented crisis. The proposed bill includes $1,200 checks for most Americans and additional money for laid-off workers.
This is “widespread carnage,” said Jacob Robbins, an assistant economics professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago to the Washington Post. “And it’s going to get worse.”
Many economists say this is only the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in more than 40 million Americans losing their jobs by the end of April.