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Unemployment could top 32% as 47 million lose jobs, Fed says

The unemployment rate in the U.S. could reach a staggering 32.1% in the second quarter as 47 million workers are laid off amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to estimates published in a blog by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

That would be the highest jobless rate on records dating to 1948 and easily top the 25% rate during the Great Depression.

“These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years, “ St. Louis Fed economist Miguel Faria-e-Castro wrote in the blog.

Millions of Americans already have been laid off as states and localities shut down nonessential businesses and Americans avoid public gathering spots to contain the spread of the virus. About 3.3 million people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending March 21, reflecting layoffs in the economy.

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