Business disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus have driven millions of Americans to seek unemployment benefits, a pace and scale of damage to the labor market unseen in decades. A Wall Street Journal examination of some timely indicators over recent weeks found undercurrents of the pain and some reasons for hope. The key takeaways include:

• Employers expect their initial cutbacks to be temporary, a change from downturns in the 1990s and 2000s, which tended to involve permanent layoffs.

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