Coronavirus job losses occurring at 5 times rate of Great Recession, expert says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New national unemployment numbers released Thursday show staggering figures as COVID-19 job losses hit more industries, with another 5 million people filing for benefits this week.

Renee Coleman is one of 22 million Americans recently laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I knew it was going to happen eventually because a lot of other places was closing," Coleman said.

The unemployment rate could reach up to 20% in April, according to some economists. If so, it would be the highest rate since the Depression.

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David Greising, president of the Better Government Association, believes the worst is yet to come.

"We are seeing job loss at about five times the rate they were lost during the Great Recession," Greising said. "The Great Recession was the worst economic conditions that anybody alive had ever seen."

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Greising said the long-term impact remains unclear.

"We have never seen this speed of dislocation in the economy," he said.


The service industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, but layoffs are spreading well beyond that industry and now hitting other sectors, such as construction.

Some laid off workers in Illinois continue to hit roadblocks with the state getting their unemployment benefits.

"If you would put some other people in place, hire some more people so they can actually answer calls like this," Coleman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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