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Another 2.4 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the number of workers sidelined by the coronavirus crisis topped 38 million, new federal data show. That indicates almost a quarter of the US workforce has tried to join the nation’s unemployment rolls in the past nine weeks as the pandemic kneecapped the global economy.

Economists expected the US Department of Labor to report 2.4 million claims for last week. The feds also revised the prior week’s total down to 2.6 million from about 3 million. While the weekly totals of initial jobless claims has fallen steadily since late March, the seasonally adjusted numbers have remained high as overwhelmed states slogged through large backlogs of applications.

But the number of people filing continued claims for unemployment benefits surged to more than 25 million in the week ending May 9, the feds said, suggesting many workers have not returned to their jobs since being laid off or furloughed amid lockdowns aimed at curbing the coronavirus.

The latest jobless claims were filed in the same week as the feds’ monthly employment survey that will be used to generate the closely watched jobs report for May. April’s survey showed unemployment spiking to a record 14.7 percent as the economy shed more than 20 million jobs, the worst losses since the Great Depression.

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Updated: Thu, Jun 4th 2020 @ 11:40am EDT