The number of newly laid-off Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose far more than expected last week as employers cut thousands of jobs amid a deepening recession.
The Labor Department says first-time requests for unemployment benefits jumped to 667,000 from the previous week's figure of 631,000. Analysts had expected a slight drop in claims.
That's the highest level of initial claims since October 1982, though the labor force has grown by about half since then.
The number of people receiving unemployment insurance for more than one week also increased more than expected to 5.1 million. That's the fifth straight week the jobless benefit rolls have set a new record-high on data going back to 1967.