WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A record-high number of people applied for unemployment benefits last week as layoffs engulfed the United States in the face of a near-total economic shutdown caused by COVID-19.
Jobless claims for last week reached 3.3 million.
The previous all-time high was 695,000 set in 1982.
Local officials at The WorkPlace of Jefferson County believe unemployment rates will also skyrocket.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the national unemployment rate stood at 3.5 percent.
The north country's rate hovered around 7 percent.
“Nationally they are predicting unemployment to be 20 and we're higher here. So if it ends up between 20 and 30 percent, I won't be surprised,” said Cheryl Mayforth, The WorkPlace executive director.
Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms and airlines.
Auto sales are plummeting and car makers have closed factories.
Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they’re forced to cut jobs to save money.