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The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown dried up business for sectors from retail to entertainment. Meanwhile, the number of Americans seeking new unemployment benefits swelled to 6.6 million between March 28 and April 4.
That number neared the previous week's record of 6.87 million, according to the weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department published on Thursday.
Companies that recently announced furloughs include:
- TJX Companies Inc.: The parent company of designer bargain chains such as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and HomeSense suspended its in-store and distribution workers. TJX Companies Inc., which employs 286,000 people worldwide, wrote it will furlough the majority of its U.S. workforce due to coronavirus-related challenges. Furloughed workers will be paid through Saturday, while eligible employees will retain their benefits in the absence of labor.
- Caesars Entertainment: The casino and resort operator said on April 2 that it would furlough about 90% of its 64,000 employees. Caesars said it would pay furloughed employees for the first two weeks of the closure and let employees use any available paid time off after that. Caesars will also cover 100 percent of health insurance premiums for furloughed employees in the company health plan through June 30 or their return to work.
- Dick's Sporting Goods: The retailer said last week it would furlough a "significant number" of store employees. Furloughed employees received pay through Saturday and their benefits throughout the furlough, according to the company.
- Under Armour: The sports apparel company will furlough 6,600 employees at its U.S. stores and warehouses starting Sunday. Workers affected by the decision will continue to receive health benefits for two months. Under Armour's board of directors and top executives are taking 25 percent pay cuts.
- Universal Studios: Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood said this week that they would stay closed through May 31. Full-time employees will be paid at 100% through April 19, but pay and workload for most workers will be reduced to 80% after that, and part-time hourly workers will be furloughed beginning May 3, Universal said. The company said it would continue to provide benefits for employees who already had them.
- Disney: The Walt Disney Company announced in early April that it would furlough workers as its theme parks remain closed. Disney noted that it has committed to paying its employees through April 18. The furlough process will begin on April 19, but Disney said the affected staffers "will receive full healthcare benefits, plus the cost of employee and company premiums will be paid by Disney."
As an end date for the virus lockdown seems unclear, furloughs may feel more like layoffs. Technically, both words denote a cessation of employment, although employers typically use the word "furlough" when the condition is temporary. There's no across-the-board definition for what benefits or packages an employer owes the employee.
"Let us hope we can reopen this economy in the next four to eight weeks," Kudlow told FOX Business' Charles Payne. Kudlow has been advocating that timetable since early April.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.