Two months after the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit the U.S. labor market, nearly 37 million people have applied for unemployment benefits, and last week more than 2.9 million petitions were initiated by people who lost their jobs.

Last week’s figure, released by the Department of Labor and exceeding experts’ expectations, indicates that the impact of the pandemic continues, especially on retail trade, while the federal government, state executives, health authorities and public opinion remain divided over the pace at which the return to normal economic activity should take place.

To alleviate the economic havoc, the Federal Reserve has launched its monetary potential with massive injections of liquidity into the financial markets, massive purchases of debt and has lowered interest rates to almost 0%. In addition, Congress has approved several fiscal stimulus programs worth nearly $3 trillion.

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor market in the world’s largest economy peaked at 6.87 million claims for unemployment benefits in the last week of March, and weekly claims have since slowed.

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