The ranks of the unemployed are swelling in ways not seen before since the coronavirus crisis. 3.84 million people requested unemployment benefits in the last week, contributing to the now more than 30 million Americans who have applied for first-time unemployment. Numbers began surging as state-ordered coronavirus lockdowns brought huge swaths of the economy to a halt.
Not even during the peak of the Great Recession did the unemployment numbers come close to the initial spikes — with 665,000 people applying for benefits the week of March 28, 2009 — and the numbers that followed. The interactive chart below, dating back to 1967, shows the stunning surge in claims over the past couple weeks.
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