(Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic ravaged the U.S. labor market just as it was starting to benefit disadvantaged communities, and if the job losses last, some workers could face a long climb back to where they were financially, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday.

Just two months ago, the U.S. economy was in its 11th year of an expansion that seemed poised to continue, Powell said during a news conference after the Fed said it would keep interest rates near zero until the economy recovers.

“We were hearing from minority and low-to-moderate-income communities that this was the best labor market they had seen in their lifetime,” Powell said. “It is heartbreaking to see that all threatened now.”

More than 26 million Americans have filed for

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