The number of people filing initial unemployment claims in North Dakota and the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic began continues to rise.

The state number has now climbed above 67,000, and nationwide, April job losses alone far exceeded the unemployment rate in the last recession and led to the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. since the Great Depression.

According to numbers released Thursday, May 7, by Job Service North Dakota, 4,790 North Dakotans filed unemployment claims the week prior, which helped push the total number of claims filed since March 16 to more than 67,000.

Nationally, more than 20.5 million jobs vanished in April, sending the unemployment rate to 14.7%, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday, May 8.

With tens of thousands of North Dakotans, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans and millions of Americans losing their jobs, career expert Lisa Rangel assembled a list of seven tips on how to best prepare for a potential layoff during this time of economic uncertainty.

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In examining how to prepare for a possible layoff, Chameleon Resumes founder Rangel looks to the 2001 and 2008 layoff events, as well some 2020 actions unique to this economic recession.

Here are seven ways to brace yourself for a potential layoff:

1) Act like you lost your job today

Reduce all of the expenses you can now to tighten your monthly budget, so if a layoff were to come, you’ll be prepared with an already shrunken budget.

2) Be ready to ask for health care benefit extensions

If you expect a layoff is coming, do the calculations ahead of time and compare to options on healthcare.gov to know what alternatives are available and what costs are associated with maintaining benefits.

3) Update your resume and LinkedIn profile while you still have access to performance data

Utilize achievement-based language to strengthen each career document with your company’s performance data.

4) Grow virtual networks

Sign up for Zoom and an online scheduling tool to start online networking while still employed. Set up one-on-one update chats, group social hours and corporate and college alumni get-togethers to build a network with the virtual tools.

5) Look where hiring is happening

Hiring does happen in recessions, as it did in 2001 and 2008, it’s just different. Look for openings at essential companies, companies needing temporary leaders and workers, forward-thinking companies that will build during the downturn, companies advertising hiring in the news and online and downsizing companies.

6) Skills can be repurposed if current industry is bleak

Proactively look at areas hiring and evaluate how your skills could be leveraged into a new industry.

7) Listen to the “Pretend You’re Fired Today” podcast

The podcast is 52 weeks of 10 -to-15 minute episodes on steps to take to ensure you’re prepared for an unexpected layoff.