Even as restrictions on businesses began lifting across the United States, another 2.4 million workers filed for jobless benefits last week.
According to the US government data, this brings the total of new claims to more than 38 million in nine weeks, reports the New York Times.
"The hemorrhaging has continued," Torsten Slok, chief economist for Deutsche Bank Securities, said of the mounting job losses.
He expects the official jobless rate for May to approach 20 percent, up from the 14.7 percent reported by the Labor Department for April.
A recent household survey from the US Census Bureau suggests that the pain is widespread: 47 percent of adults said they or a member of their household had lost employment income since mid-March.
Nearly 40 percent expected the loss to continue over the next four weeks. There is increasing concern that many jobs are not coming back, even for those who consider themselves laid off temporarily.
Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economist who is a co-author of an analysis of the pandemic's effects on the labor market, estimates that 42 percent of recent layoffs will result in permanent job losses.
"I hate to say it, but this is going to take longer and look grimmer than we thought," he said of the path to recovery.