20 million American workers could lose their jobs in the next 3 months because of the coronavirus pandemic

Willie Mae Daniels stands at the front door of her home on March 26 after being laid off from her job as a food service cashier at the University of Miami on March 17. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nearly 20 million American workers could lose their jobs by July due to the coronavirus, according to a April 1 report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

The report cited a Goldman Sachs prediction that the US economy would contract by 34% in the second quarter of the year.

“This large drop in GDP is consistent with 19.8 million jobs lost by July, bringing unemployment rates across the country into the mid-teens,” Senior Economic Analyst David Cooper and State Economic Analyst Julia Wolfe wrote for EPI.

The institute’s job loss estimates mount with each passing week. Just a week ago, on March 25, EPI had a much more conservative but still startling estimate: 14 million jobs lost. Two weeks ago, it estimated a now comparatively meager three million jobs lost.

That was on March 17, the day after restaurants and bars across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were ordered to shut down operations with the exception of take-out and delivery orders. On March 19, California became the first US state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. Many other states and cities have since followed suit.

Boston restaurant closed coronavirus
Owner and chef Anthony Caldwell looks out from 50Kitchen in the Field’s Corner neighbourhood of Boston, MA on March 18, 2020. Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Across the country and the world, companies are laying off workers in industries from travel to restaurants as business takes a hit from the pandemic. A record 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 28, doubling the record set the week before.

On Thursday, a team of Bank of America economists released a report forecasting that the US economy will contract for three quarters, with a cumulative GDP decline of 10.4%, as Business Insider’s Carmen Reinicke reported. The unemployment rate could rise as high as 15.6%, according to the report.

“This will be the deepest recession on record, nearly five times more severe than the post-war average,” economist Michelle Meyer wrote.

Here’s everything you need to know if you’ve recently been laid off and are applying for unemployment benefits.