More than two million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as businesses continue to struggle through the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2.123 million claims means there have been more than 40 million applications for unemployment benefits since 21 March, when most world economies were - or were about to be - shut down.
It is the 10th consecutive week (the week to 23 May) that the number of applications topped two million and it comes as non-essential businesses begin to reopen after more than two months of being closed to limit the spread of the virus.
The figures do not necessarily represent the number of job losses, as not all applications are approved, some people submit more than one application, and others might have found work since applying.
Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Pennsylvania, said: "I am concerned that we are seeing a second round of private sector layoffs that, coupled with a rising number of public sector cutbacks is driving up the number of people unemployed.
"If that is the case, given the pace of reopening, we could be in for an extended period of extraordinary high unemployment. And that means the recovery will be slower and will take a lot longer."
His comments come after plane maker Boeing announced 12,000 redundancies in the US, mainly due to a fall in the demand from airlines, themselves hit by fall in demand from passengers in a world of closed borders, travel restrictions and quarantines.
The US Commerce Department said on Thursday that GDP contracted at a 5% annualised rate in the first quarter of the year, the worst performance since the recession of 2007-09.
Economists expect the GDP could drop as much as 40% in the second quarter.
More than 100,000 people in the US have died as a result of the coronavirus, among more than 356,000 worldwide.
Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World -- a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.
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