The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits has shot to a record of more than three million as strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic grind the country to a halt.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 3.28 million last week from a revised 282,000 the previous week, eclipsing the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982, the US Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists had forecast claims would rise to one million, but estimates had ranged to as high as four million.
The jobless blowout was announced shortly after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told NBC the US "may well be in recession", but progress in controlling the spread of the coronavirus will dictate when the economy can fully reopen.
His remarks were an unusual acknowledgement by a Fed chair that the economy may be contracting even before data confirms it.
Australian Associated Press