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At Least 39 Million Have Sought US Jobless Aid Since COVID-19 Hit.

The government will provide its latest snapshot Thursday of the layoffs that have left tens of millions of people unemployed but that have begun to slow as states allow some businesses to reopen and fewer companies slash jobs. Millions more people likely filed for unemployment benefits last week, after 36 million sought aid in the previous eight weeks as the coronavirus forced employers to close and sent the economy into a deep recession.

The pace of layoffs has declined for six straight weeks, and some reopened businesses have rehired a portion of their laid-off employees. By historical standards, though, the number of weekly applications remains immense.

The continuing job cuts reflect an economy that is gripped by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the economy is shrinking at a 38% annual rate in the April-June quarter. That would be, by far, the worst quarterly contraction on record.

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