More than 6.6 million people filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, setting a grim record for the second straight week.
The latest claims brought the two-week total to nearly 10 million.
The speed and scale of the job losses is without precedent. Until last month, the worst week for unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.
“What usually takes months or quarters to happen in a recession is happening in a matter of weeks,” said Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
A month ago, most forecasters still thought the United States could avoid a recession. Today, with the pandemic shuttering businesses and forcing vast layoffs, many economists are expecting a decline in gross domestic product that rivals the worst periods of the Great Depression.