American workers prepare for “the single worst jobs report in history.”

Every month, the Labor Department releases a comprehensive jobs report, and as for April’s numbers, expectations are lower than they have ever been.

According to CBS News reporting, forecasters expect the nation’s jobless rate, which was at 4.4% in March, to skyrocket to an annualized unemployment rate of 15% to 20% for the April period, based on a survey of workers during the week of April 12. The spike in joblessness follows record-breaking unemployment claims week after week since mid-March, including Thursday’s report that 3.2 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance benefits last week.

On Thursday, May 8, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said there were 3.2 million jobless claims (applications for unemployment benefits) last week, bringing the two-month total to at least 33.5 million. But not everyone who is unemployed files for benefits. To qualify as “unemployed,” someone has to have recently looked for a new job…and many workers feel discouraged by the current economy and aren’t bothering. Or are staying home to care for family.

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that unemployment, which hit 4.4% in March, will average nearly 14% during April, May and June. Moody’s Investors Service predicts it will rise to 15% during the quarter. The real unemployment rate is probably higher, says Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. Among the industries feeling the deepest impact are those related to travel, retail and hospitality, especially restaurants, airlines, hotels and brick-and-mortar stores.

On general opinions by experts, these are what they expect about the Labor Department’s comprehensive jobs report:

  • Glassdoor economist Daniel Zhao bluntly predicts “the single worst jobs report in history” from the Labor Department.
  • White House Economist Kevin Hassett says it could turn out as “the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression”
  • The New York Times expects “a portrait of devastation.” Columnist Neil Irwin adds: “When released Friday morning, the April numbers will show exactly how stunning the American economy’s plunge has been. It will be hard to find words to capture what those tables of figures will show (…) There will be nothing fun about Friday’s report. It’s hard to even fathom what we’re going to learn, or what kinds of words can capture the human pain beneath the eye-popping numbers.”

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