The number of Americans submitting unemployment claims totaled 6.61 million for the week ending April 4, the second-highest on record, compared with an upwardly revised all-time high of 6.87 million in the previous week, the Department of Labor said on Thursday.
That brings the total number of people filing for unemployment benefits to about 16.8 million during the coronavirus pandemic’s economic shutdown. The wave of claims includes workers previously excluded from filing such as freelancers, self-employed contractors and gig workers.
About 1 in 10 people lost their jobs in the past three weeks, according to the Associated Press.
California reported the most initial claims last week, with an unadjusted rate of 925,000 filings. In the previous week, the state reported more than 1 million. Wyoming had the lowest number of unemployment claims among the states with 4,900, down from nearly 6,400 in the previous week.
“This is incredibly unfortunate to see these numbers,” said Anthony Casa, chairman of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts. “Even if you look at things optimistically and say that 90% of these jobs will come back when we get through this health crisis, this means 1.6 to 1.7 million people will have lost these jobs as a result of these three weeks.”
More than 95% of the U.S. population has been ordered to stay at home by governors seeking to stem the spread of COVID-19. The state orders exempt people who work at jobs deemed essential, such as nurses, doctors, and police officers.
While some people have been able to switch to working from home, many others with jobs that can’t be done remotely, like store clerks or restaurant workers, have been forced to file for unemployment benefits.
“This is not something we’re going to get over quickly,” Casa said. “The country is going to be dealing with the fallout from this for quite some time.”