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US loses 26.5m jobs as virus wipes out gains

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A man wearing a face mask walks in front of the New York Stock Exchange building in the financial district, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S. April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

A man wearing a face mask walks in front of the New York Stock Exchange building in the financial district, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S. April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

REUTERS

A man wearing a face mask walks in front of the New York Stock Exchange building in the financial district, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S. April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

SOME 26.5 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits since mid-March, confirming that all the jobs gained during the longest employment boom in US history have been wiped out as the coronavirus savages the economy.

The deepening economic slump amid nationwide lockdowns to control the spread of Covid-19, the potentially lethal respiratory illness caused by the virus, was underscored by other data yesterday showing business activity sinking to an all-time low in April. In addition, new home sales decreased by the most in more than six and a half years in March.

"At this point, it would take a miracle to keep this recession from turning into the Great Depression II," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. "The risks to the outlook are that the economy is digging itself such a big deep hole that it will become harder and harder to climb back out of it."

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totalled a seasonally adjusted 4.427 million for the week to April 18.

Reuters

Irish Independent