WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as job cuts escalated across an economy that remains all but shut down, the government said Thursday.

Roughly 26 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the five weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors.

About one in six American workers have now lost their jobs since mid-March, by far the worst string of layoffs on record.

Economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20%.

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