The number of jobless claims rose by more than 5 million this week, according to the Department of Labor.
About 5.2 million workers filed for unemployment benefits this week, bringing the total number of jobless claims over the last four weeks to roughly 22 million, CNN reports.
The job losses, sparked by the coronavirus crisis, has eliminated about 13.5% of the workforce in just one month.
The skyrocketing claims mark the biggest rise in unemployment in history.
During the 2007-08 recession, for example, 8.6 million Americans lost their jobs over a two-year period.
April unemployment rate will be “shocking”:
The unemployment rate officially stands at 4.4% but it is expected to skyrocket in April once all of the recent job losses are added.
"April is bound to be truly shocking," said Brian Coulton, the chief economist at Fitch Ratings.
Coulton predicted that the unemployment rate would rise to about 15% this month.
Workers at retail stores, restaurants, and hotels were among the first to lose their jobs but office jobs may be next.
"As shutdowns continue, job losses will likely extend into other areas of the labor market, such as business and professional services where firms may begin to see lower revenues from a second order pull back in demand," predicted Moody’s Robard Williams.
Uber, Lyft drivers catch a break:
The Labor Department said on Wednesday that Uber and Lyft drivers will be eligible for unemployment if they lost business.
“There’s a number of criteria that an individual can look at to see if they’re eligible, and one of those is if an individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19 and if there’s a significant diminution of their work as a result of COVID-19,” a department official told HuffPost.
The Department previously said the workers would not qualify.
“I used the authority provided to me in the legislation to ensure additional eligibility for rideshare workers, like Uber and Lyft drivers,” Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said on Wednesday.