The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits more than doubled to a second straight record as the coronavirus widened its reach and closed more businesses.
A total of 6.65 million people filed jobless claims in the week ended March 28, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday, as many stores and restaurants were forced to close across the nation to mitigate the outbreak. The prior week’s level was also revised up slightly to 3.31 million.
The figure topped all analyst estimates and compared with a median projection of 3.76 million.
The weekly claims data, usually the first to show a hit amid a downturn, highlight the extent to which US businesses and workers are reeling from the global health crisis. Service providers - especially in retail, restaurants and travel - have been noticeably affected, though other industries have also reported weakness and layoffs.
Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, jumped by 1.25 million to 3.03 million in the week ended March 21. That pushed the insured unemployment rate up to 2.1 percent from 1.2 percent.
California reported the most initial claims last week at about 879,000.