NATIONWIDE — Even with companies calling some laid-off employees back to work, 2.1 million U.S. workers sought jobless aid last week.

That raised the total layoffs since virus struck to nearly 41 million.

The pace of layoffs has declined for seven straight weeks, a sign that the cratering of the job market may have bottomed out. 

By historical standards, though, the number of weekly applications remains enormous.

The job cuts reflect an economy that was seized by the worst downturn since the Great Depression after the virus forced the widespread shutdown of businesses. 

The economy is thought to be shrinking in the April-June quarter at an annual rate approaching 40 percent.

That would be, by far, the worst quarterly contraction on record.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.