US unemployment claims reach record 3.28M this week

Patients wear personal protective equipment while maintaining social distancing as they wait in line for a COVID-19 test at Elmhurst Hospital Center, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded his most dire warning yet about the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, saying the infection rate in New York is accelerating and the state could be as close as two weeks away from a crisis that sees 40,000 people in intensive care. Such a surge would overwhelm hospitals, which now have just 3,000 intensive care unit beds statewide. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(ABC7NY) – A record 3,283,000 Americans filed for unemployment this week amid the coronavirus crisis, U.S. Department of Labor figures released Thursday show.

This is the largest number in the nation’s history and equivalent to the entire city of Houston being out of work.

By comparison, the highest number before this was 695,000 claims in one week in 1982.

This means the number of suddenly jobless Americans is larger than during the Great Recession — and more than in the aftermath of major natural disasters such as hurricanes, fires and floods.

This number only accounts for those who successfully filed and does not represent the total number of those unemployed.

On Monday, the New York State Department of Labor tweeted, “If you have been unable to get through our phone and/or online system this week, please keep trying.”

As job losses mount, some economists say the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10%.