COVID-19 outbreak has put 72,000 Vermonters out of work


Since March 15, when the coronavirus outbreak led to a series of directives by Gov. Phil Scott that shut down non-essential businesses in the state, more than 71,660 Vermonters have filed initial jobless claims, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Last week, some 22,750 Vermont workers filed initial claims for unemployment benefits — a 4,300 percent increase over the same period in 2019, when 519 people filed first-time claims.

In the United States, the job market is quickly unraveling as businesses have shut down across the country. All told, in the past three weeks, 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid. The surge of jobless claims has overwhelmed state unemployment offices around the country. And still more job cuts are expected.

Nationwide, more than one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks. More than 20 million people may lose jobs this month. The unemployment rate could hit 15% when the April employment report is released in early May.

The figures collectively constitute the largest and fastest string of job losses in records dating to 1948. By contrast, during the Great Recession it took 44 weeks — roughly 10 months — for unemployment claims to go as high as they now have in less than a month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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