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4.4 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Last Week, Bringing Coronavirus Jobless Claims to over 26 Million

People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment benefits, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, in Fort Smith, Ark., April 6, 2020. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

More than four million Americans filed for unemployment last week, according to statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department.

The total number of jobless Americans has increased by 26.5 million, almost 16 percent of the country’s labor force, since businesses began shuttering in mind-March to stem the spread of the coronavirus. In five weeks, closures caused by the pandemic have erased the 22 million jobs gained since the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

“Today’s unemployment report shows continued, elevated unemployment claims caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” Labor secretary Eugene Scalia said in a statement. “The Department of Labor is continuing to provide guidance and support to the states as they implement the enhanced unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.”

The CARES Act, passed by Congress earlier this month, provides $2.2 trillion in economic relief for the American economy. The Senate on Wednesday approved an additional injection of $484 billion in loans to small businesses and aid to hospitals, and the House will vote on the measure on Thursday.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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