Another 6.6 million U.S. workers laid off in early April

Heavy manufacturing layoffs are now coming to Portland folloiwng the service sector's implosion; will the running shoe drop?

About 6.6 million people filed for U.S. jobless benefits in early April, bringing the three-week total to 16.8 million employees — nearly a 10th of the U.S. workforce — who have lost their jobs since the coronavirus shutdown.

State employment departments have been swamped with calls and online applications across the country. Texas and Florida, which represent 15 percent of the national workforce, have yet to post big numbers. Those states only started shutting down businesses and calling for stay-at-home policies in the past 10 days. About 48 states have closed non-essential businesses.

Economists predict the national unemployment rate could hit 15% by the end of April.

Layoffs are starting to hit manufacturing, including in Portland. Just this week:

• Railcar maker Gunderson announced it was cutting 195 of 700 local jobs, and laying off 3,500 worldwide.

• Precision Castparts plans to shut down its Southeast Portland campus and furlough employees from April 20 until May 3. The number of layoffs was not revealed.

• Evraz Oregon Steel announced it would furlough 230 employees until June, according to the Portland Business Journal, which estimated the cuts at 600 people.

Economists fear job cuts at top employers Intel and Nike could be next, making a bigger dent in the Portland region's economy.