The economy has been in free fall for the past six weeks, throwing tens of millions of people out of work nationally as businesses have closed or ratcheted back operations amid the coronavirus pandemic and as consumers have hunkered down and limited spending.

But at least a bottom might be near.

A number of economists are forecasting an end to the job losses, saying the torrent of layoffs and furloughs should ebb soon and start to be replaced by hiring — if only in terms of bringing some former employees back — beginning in June or July.

“It’s going to be a slow recovery” that could take 18 months or longer, said Jon Hockenyos, president of Austin-based economic analysis firm TXP Inc. “I think by

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