The number of US unemployment claims has hit 33.3 million since mid-March amid coronavirus lockdown, about 20% of the US workforce.
A further 3.2 million Americans sought unemployment benefits last week as the economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to mount.
The number of new claims reported each week by the Department of Labor has subsided since hitting a peak of 6.9 million in March.
However, they remain extraordinarily high.
The number of Americans collecting benefits has continued to rise, despite recent moves to start re-opening in some parts of the country.
Companies such as Lyft, Uber and Airbnb are amongst the companies that have announced cuts in recent weeks, as shutdowns halted significant amounts of travel.
The impact has been felt across the economy, affecting medical practices, restaurants and administrative workers among many others.
Economists say the monthly unemployment rate for April, which will be released on May 8, is likely to reach 15% or higher.
Just two months ago, the unemployment rate was at 3.5%, a 50-year low.
Since the coronavirus has taken hold in the US, the country has suffered its worst growth numbers in a decade, the worst retail sales report on record and declines in business activity not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.
Meanwhile, weeks of elevated unemployment claims have far surpassed the prior record of 700,000.
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Food pantries have seen spikes in demand, and homeowners and renters have delayed monthly payments.
The National Multifamily Housing Council – an industry group for apartment owners – reported last month that nearly a third of renters did not make their full payment by the first of the month.
Economists are hoping the pain will ease as businesses gradually restart.
Retailers such as Gap have already announced plans for re-opening some stores. Others, including J Crew and department store Neiman Marcus, have been pushed into bankruptcy.
Moody’s Investors Service has predicted that the US unemployment rate could fall back to 7% by the end of the year, but that forecast depends on the virus. The longer the shutdown persists, the harder it will be for the economy to rebound.