A record-shattering 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic closes down the U.S. economy, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected roughly 1.5 million new claims.
The huge number represents 4.7 times more new unemployment claims than the previous record, 695,000, set in October 1982. The highest number during the Great Recession was 665,000.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday morning:
"This is a unique situation. People need to understand, this is not a typical downturn. At a certain point, we will get the spread of the virus under control. At that time, confidence will return, businesses will open again, people will come back to work," he added. "So you may well see a significant rise in unemployment, a significant decline in economic activity. But there can also be a good rebound on the other side of that."