Thousands of Virginians among US's 6.6 million initial unemployment claims

Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 4:55 PM EDT
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In the past week, 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment for the first time since the

pandemic began.

That record-breaking number doubled the previous record, which was set last Thursday.

“The bottom line is that over the last two weeks roughly nine million people have been laid off,” said Virginia Tech Finance Professor Derek Klock.

Klock says as many people have lost their jobs over the past two weeks as during the entire economic collapse of 2008-09, and we are approaching an unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent.

“We only lost nine million jobs in the entire 27 months of job losses during the Great Recession,” said Klock.

This extreme job-loss has led to countless frustrating attempts by Virginians to file for unemployment over the phone or online.

“It’s been tough because obviously with this kind of demand our system isn’t really set up to deal with it, so it’s been a bit of a hassle, we’ve heard from a number of folks that they’ve had a struggle getting that application in, but we urge you to be patient and that we will get it figured out eventually,” said Brad Stephens with Virginia Career Works – Blue Ridge.

Klock expects the 6.6 million figure to be the peak of unemployment filings for now, but not the last of them.

He anticipates elevated filings to continue as more and more businesses and their workers are deemed 'non-essential.’

“Until we have a good idea of what truly ‘essential’ means, I don’t know that there’s really a good understanding of where bottom is.”

Klock is hopeful that once life begins to return to normal, many of these people who have been laid off will be able to return to work.

He hopes to see the unemployment rate begin to fall sometime between the middle of the summer and early fall.

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