A record 6.65 million American workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (pdf), marking another drastic downturn in the U.S. labor market caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The large number of claims was more than double the 3.31 million who sought benefits two weeks ago as corporate employers continue to respond to the downturn in economic activity by laying off masses of workers across the country. Thus, in that period, almost 10 million American workers have been forced to join the ranks of the unemployed.*
Although claims are at record highs, many Americans across the United States have been unable to successfully apply for unemployment insurance because an unprecedented level of claims is overwhelming state labor department websites and jamming up phone lines.
*In France, to choose but one example of a different way of proceeding, the government is paying businesses not to lay off workers, delaying deadlines for taxes and loan payments, and providing state-guaranteed loans to any struggling company that needs them.