3.28 MILLION claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, which is nearly five times the previous record.
The numbers, released by the Labor Department on Thursday, show that just three weeks ago, barely 200,000 people applied for jobless benefits, a historically low number. In the half-century that the government has tracked applications, the most applications filed in a single week had been fewer than 700,000.
“In the whole history of initial claims, there’s never been anything remotely close to that,” said Ben Herzon, executive director of IHS Markit, a business data and analytics firm. And the worst could be yet to come, Mr. Herzon said he expected a similarly large number next Thursday, when the Labor Department releases its report on new claims filed this week.
Some part-time and low-wage workers don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. Nor do gig workers, independent contractors and the self-employed, although the emergency aid package being considered by Congress would broaden eligibility.