By Sarah Foster
U.S. economy reporter
Millions of Americans are out of work, businesses are shuttering and economic activity is coming to a near grinding halt. In a matter of days, the novel coronavirus has cratered the U.S. job market, reversing its reign as the best in decades to now the worst.
More than 17 million people have applied for unemployment insurance since March, implying that joblessness has risen to nearly 14 percent, higher than at any time during the Great Recession. The Treasury Department said unemployment could skyrocket to 20 percent, while economists at the St. Louis Federal Reserve said joblessness could top 32 percent — above where it was during the Great Depression.
“It is quite clear that we’re facing a toll of furloughs and job cuts, which are unprecedented in recent American history,” says Mark Hamrick, Bankrate’s senior economic analyst and Washington bureau chief. “We are bracing for ugly numbers.”