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If projections hold true, unemployment figures released later today could show 26 million Americans, or about 16% of the U.S. workforce, have filed for state unemployment assistance over the past five weeks, including the anticipated 4.3 million who applied last week.

The figures, compiled by Reuters, effectively eliminate a decade of U.S. unemployment gains and shatter the standing post-World War II record that passed 10 percent in November 1982. Specifically, the U.S. economy added 22 million jobs in the past decade, beginning in September 2010 before grinding to a halt two months ago.

“The U.S. economy is hemorrhaging jobs at a pace and scale never before recorded,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco, told Reuters, adding, “It compares to a natural disaster on a national scale.”

Indeed, economists surveyed by the news agency are forecasting as many as 25 million jobs were lost in April, alone, following the 701,000 jobs lost in March, representing the largest decrease in 11 years, The Washington Post reported.

One positive trend, however, is that Reuters also forecasts the anticipated 4.3 million jobless claims for last week represent a roughly 18 percent decrease from the 5.25 million claims filed the week prior and should indicate a decline in jobless filings for three consecutive weeks.

Reuters’ analysis also indicates the figures for the week ended April 18 could fall anywhere between 4.2 million and 5.5 million.

And economists surveyed by Reuters are not sugar-coating their projections.

“It wipes out all the job gains during the long expansion,” Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM in New York, told the news agency, adding, “Once the economy begins to reopen initial claims will slow, but we have to be honest, not everyone is going to get their jobs back.”

The U.S. Department of Labor is slated to release the official unemployment figures for last week later today.

Read more here.