Another 4.4m filed for unemployment last week

At least 4.4m workers claimed unemployment benefits for the first time in the week ending April 18.

The numbers of new filers are down from the previous week, which saw 5.2m new claimants, and the 6.9m and 6.6m claims the two weeks previous to that. The numbers are nonetheless astronomical, and suggest that the total unemployment figure will soon exceed 30m, about 20% of the workforce.

Roughly 26 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the five weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors. About one in six American workers have now lost their jobs since mid-March, by far the worst string of layoffs on record. Economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20%. The enormous magnitude of job cuts has plunged the U.S. economy into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Some economists say the nation's output could shrink by twice the amount that it did during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009.