Another 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment in the week ending April 11, bringing the latest four-week tally to 22 million, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Of the states that provided commentary, several listed foodservice as an industry hit with layoffs, a similar story in the past few weeks. Nearly all states have issued stay at home orders, which have closed nonessential businesses and dining rooms at restaurants. During the Great Recession, it took two years for 8.6 million to lose their jobs and for the unemployment rate to rise into double digits.

In April, the National Restaurant Association expects job losses at eating and drinking establishments to reach into the millions, which has never happened in a single month to one industry in the post-World War II era. The organization said that between March 1 and 22, the industry lost more than 3 million jobs and $25 billion in sales. In addition, about 50 percent of operators anticipate more layoffs in April.

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, backed with fundraising efforts from Food Network star Guy Fieri, has raised more than $15 million to assist affected restaurant employees. Applicants can apply for a one-time $500 payment to help with bills and other expenses.

The number of unemployment filers in the past four weeks equates to more than 13 percent of the U.S. labor force.

National Association of Business Economics Survey panelists say the economy is already in recession and will remain that way for the first half of 2020.

The panelists project a 12 percent unemployment rate in Q2. They believe it will lower to 9.5 percent by the end of the year and to 6 percent at the end of 2021.

They expect gross domestic product to drop 26.5 percent in the second quarter, but rise 2 percent in the third quarter.

“Despite a sharp deterioration in labor market conditions, the median forecast suggests conditions will improve by the end of the year with support from aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus, as panelists expect the Federal Reserve to hold steady on near-zero interest rates through 2021,” said Constance Hunter, president of the Association, in a statement.

Earlier in the week, President Donald Trump said he will authorize all 50 governors to devise a plan on how to reopen their respective economies when the timing is right. He also announced a list of more than 200 representatives among several industries that will assist with the reopening plans. In that list are many chain restaurant CEOs and independent operators.

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