Unemployment claims hit record 6.6 million

A record number of 6,648,000 people filed initial unemployment claims in the last week of March, shattering the record number for the second week in a row.

The figure, for the week ending March 28, surpassed the roughly 3.3 million seasonally adjusted initial claims the previous week. Until that point, the highest level on record was 695,000 in October of 1982.

The Labor Department data offers a window into the severity of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has frozen a significant part of the economy in the United States and in dozens of countries around the world.

An analysis from Goldman Sachs earlier this week projected that unemployment would rise to 15 percent this quarter, more than quadruple the 3.5 percent level where it was hovering before the crisis erupted, and well above the 10 percent peak it reached during the height of the Great Recession a decade ago.

On Thursday, the U.S. passed a grim milestone, with the coronavirus-related death count surpassing 5,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. Over 1,000 deaths occured in the last 24 hours alone.

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