The numbers: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week soared by a record 6.6 million, bringing the increase in new jobless claims in the last two weeks of March to 10 million as the all-out effort to slow the coronavirus slammed the economy.
Countless businesses across the country have been forced to close or scale back hours, throwing masses of people out of work and triggering an unprecedented back-to-back surge in initial jobless claims. New claims are likely keep climbing in the next few weeks as the damage unfolds.
In just the past two weeks alone, new claims have easily exceeded the peak number of people who collected benefits during the 2007-2009 recession. A then-record 6.6 million people drew benefits at the tail end of the last recession.
Soon the clutch of unemployed Americans is likely to surpass the prior record of 15.3 million, also seen during what has become known as the Great Recession. Economists predict 25 million Americans or more could lose their jobs in the next few months, at least temporarily.