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The latest job statistics show a staggering reality now facing many Americans. Numbers released by the Labor Department on March 26 show that 3 million people filed jobless claims with the government, up from 200,000 people three weeks earlier.

According to the New York Times, the previous “worst week,” was 695,000 in 1982. These numbers don’t include part-time or low wage workers. The actual figures probably understate the problem, the New York Times reports. The numbers don’t include gig workers, self-employed or independent contractors.

The numbers also don’t take into account people that couldn’t reach the office to report their claims. Phone lines are jammed and websites as down as people rush to apply for benefits. Without a date, the numbers are the highest since the Department of Labor began collecting data in 1967.

Congress is racing to provide additional federal assistance through multiple coronavirus relief packages.

Economists warn that this is only the beginning of significant jobless claims. Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao told CNN in an email, “Most historical comparisons of this scale are inadequate. The closest would be natural disasters like major hurricanes. However, as today’s report shows, the coronavirus outbreak is economically akin to a major hurricane occurring in every state around the country for weeks on end.”

Heidi Shierholz, a former chief economist for the US Department of Labor who is now with the Economic Policy Institute, said in a tweet, “We estimate that by summer, 14 million workers will lost their jobs due to the coronavirus shock.”

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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Catch up on our coronavirus coverage in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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