NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The United States sees its highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. More than 20-million jobs vanished due to the pandemic.

The unemployment rate hit 14.7% in April as businesses in every industry shut down.

Mervin Jebaraj directs Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas.

He says the transition from having record low unemployment rates just a few months ago to now having the highest rate the country has seen in decades is unprecedented. 

Jebaraj says it’s important to note some of the jobs lost are just temporary. We may gain some of them back once we’re past the pandemic.

He says until there’s a vaccine, the best we can do is to continue following CDC guidelines.

“If we want to get back to normal that’s the kind of stuff we need to have so that people feel safe going to Walmart or any other retail establishment and shopping in person,” Jebaraj said.

Jebaraj believes the federal government must continue to financially help the unemployed and extend benefits like the Paycheck Protection Program to businesses so they can survive this crisis and offer jobs.