Coronavirus crunch: jobless claims top 16 million

Local News

New jobless claims underscore how the coronavirus pandemic has paralyzed our economy.

16 million Americans have filed new unemployment claims in the past three weeks alone; 6.6 million filed just last week on top of nearly 6.9 the week before.  Untold numbers are still struggling to get their claims processed in a system that is overwhelmed.

The White House is forming a new task force focused on the economic fallout.  It will include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said Thursday he believes the U.S. economy can reopen in May.

Meanwhile, medical experts are sounding the alarm returning too soon could trigger a second outbreak.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that would be even worse for the economy.

“We all want to avoid a false start where we at least partially reopen and that results in a spike in coronavirus cases, and then we have to go back again to go to square one,” Powell said.

Stocks soared Thursday, despite the unemployment numbers, as the Federal Reserve announced $2.3 trillion in emergency steps to shore up the economy, including a massive Main Street lending program for businesses with up to 10,000 employees.

It comes as the Senate failed to approve another $250 billion for the small business Paycheck Protection Program that’s been inundated with applications.

Republicans had been hoping for a narrow focus, solely on that small business program, but Democrats refused to pass it without adding more money for hospitals and state and local governments.

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