Just over 5 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, according to numbers released by the Labor Department on Wednesday. That puts the total number of Americans who’ve lost their jobs amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis at over 22 million.
It’s the most rapid decline in employment since the Great Depression as the U.S., like the rest of the world, has headed toward a brutal recession. Despite calls by political leaders to “reopen the economy,” many experts believe that it will take months, even years, to recover from the economic damage. The Washington Post offers two reasons why:
Even after parts of the economy reopen, unless there is widespread testing or a vaccine, people are going to remain fearful of venturing out again to restaurants or offices, many experts say.
In addition to health concerns, Americans typically slash their spending when they see widespread job losses and pay cuts among their friends and family members, another issue likely to prevent a rapid recovery.
The staggering number of jobs lost last week is still fewer than the 6.6 million lost the week before and the 6.9 million lost the week before that. According to one real-time analysis of job losses, U.S. unemployment is now over 20 percent. By comparison, peak unemployment during the Great Depression was 24.9 percent.