According to new data released by the Labor Department, 6.6 million additional Americans have filed for unemployment, bringing the number of unemployment claims nationwide to 16.6 million.
The unemployment rate in the United States was at a 50-year low as recently as January, when the economy added 225,000 jobs, but those numbers have been upended in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Claims between the period of March 28 and April 4 neared the previous week’s record of 6.87 million.
The news comes as the Trump administration makes plans to reopen the economy incrementally, staring in small towns and cities not ravaged by the virus, while “hot spots” like New York and Detroit remain shuttered.
“We’re looking at the concept where we open sections of the country and we’re also looking at the concept where you open up everything,” President Donald Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Tuesday night.
“We are coming down, I think, the home stretch, that’s what the health experts are telling us,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said earlier that same day. “Once we can reopen this thing, I think it’s going to be very successful.”
The president has originally championed re-opening the economy in time for Easter, but those plans were scuttled as the crisis escalated and he was forced to extend social distancing guidelines to April 30.
Almost 15,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus since the first death was recorded on February 29.