Another 6.6 MILLION Americans out of work as unemployment numbers hit almost 17M – The Sun

ANOTHER 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week amid the coronavirus crisis — bringing the total to 16.6 million.

The Labor Department report released on Thursday shows nearly 10 percent of the U.S. labor force is now out of work since the virus slammed the economy.

The shocking number comes after nearly 10 million people applied for benefits in previous weeks after businesses shut down due to the outbreak.

Because many states are still working on backlogs of unemployment applications, the number will most likely keep growing.

In the U.S., up to 50 million jobs are vulnerable to coronavirus-related layoffs — which is about one-third of all the jobs in the entire country.

As of Thursday, roughly one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks — and more than 20 million Americans may lose jobs in April.

Layoffs could send the unemployment rate to 15 percent next month, with at least 13 million jobs lost, according to S&P Global Ratings' chief economist, Beth Ann Bovino.

For comparison, unemployment next went above 10 percent during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009.

“It's unbelievable that I am saying this,” Bovino told The Associated Press. “It's mind-boggling.”

Last Friday, the Labor Department announced more than 701,000 jobs were cut in March during the coronavirus crisis.

The figures ended a record hiring streak in America after nearly 10 years.

Millions of workers have had hours slashed, been furloughed, or lost their jobs entirely as many non-essential businesses around the nation have had to close their doors because of the coronavirus.

The total number of those without work is likely far higher as more than 240 million are under state stay-at-home orders.

With the majority of the country enduring business shutdowns, economic activity has slowed to a near-halt.

Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, said on Monday that the economy would likely shrink at a 30 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter — a contraction that would be unmatched in records dating back to World War II.

“This is a huge, unprecedented, devastating hit,” Yellen said.

Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump seem to be coming to a consensus on the need for more aid amid the pandemic and the stark economic shutdown resulting from it.

“We’re going to take good care of our people,” Trump told reporters on Monday during his daily coronavirus press briefing. “It was not their fault.”

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he was working with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to quickly to approve an additional $250 billion for small businesses in trouble.

"Congress needs to act with speed and total focus to provide more money for this uncontroversial bipartisan program,” he said in a statement.

McConnell said he hopes “to approve further funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent or voice vote during the next scheduled Senate session on Thursday.”

The funding would supplement the $350 billion approved for companies in the recently-passed $2.2 trillion rescue package.

The Paycheck Protection Program provides loans to businesses with up to 500 employees.

Per the Small Business Administration, which is guaranteeing the loans, “lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.”

The program will be available through June 30, 2020.

The program’s money is meant to help companies that have suffered massive revenue losses due to the coronavirus outbreak, including restaurants across the country forced to shut down.

On Tuesday, Schumer called for up to $25,000 “heroes” pay for frontline health care and service industry workers for the rest of the year.
Bigger corporations would be expected to pay the bill for the pay hike, he said, while the federal government would provide funding for smaller firms.

Schumer declared the pay hike for nurses, truck drivers, grocery store clerks and others the “highest priority.”

The earlier relief package, signed by Trump in March, included one-time $1,200 direct payments to Americans.

It also provided forgivable small business loans for companies to keep making payroll, and included unemployment pay, money for hospitals and a $500 billion fund for bigger corporations and industries.

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