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Americans file initial jobless claims as layoffs mount

For the second straight week, millions of new layoffs underscored the staggering toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on America’s workers.

A record 6.6 million Americans filed first-time jobless claims last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, in a sign the sudden shutdown of a vast swath of U.S. commerce may be just starting to wreak havoc on the economy.

The number of people filing claims the prior week was revised up by a modest 24,000 to 3.3 million. A stunning 10 million workers have sought unemployment benefits in just two weeks, exceeding the nearly nine million who lost jobs from 2008 to 2010 amid the Great Recession.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimated that 3.5 million Americans filed initial claims, which amount to the nation’s most accurate gauge of layoffs and furloughs.

The historic numbers could mark just the initial wave of a punishing couple of months.

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