In the week ended March 14, there were 282,000 claims, revised up by 1,000 from the initial read.
Economists now expect the United States economy to fall into a recession in the second quarter, before staging a comeback later in the year after the spread of the virus slows.
Governors in at least 18 states, accounting for almost half the country's population, have ordered residents to stay mostly indoors.
"At a certain point, we will get the spread of the virus under control", he said Thursday on NBC's "Today" show.
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Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims would rise to 1 million, though estimates were as high as 4 million.
Strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic have brought the economy to a halt, unleashing a tidal wave of layoffs, and slamming the brakes on the largest employment boom in USA history. "There are quite a few stories of laid-off staff unable to file for unemployment insurance coverage as a result of so many individuals are attempting to file on the similar time".
"The consensus for today's first post-apocalypse jobless claims number [1.5 million], looks much too low", Shepherdson said, adding that he is expecting a staggering 3.5 million.
The pandemic is causing a trifecta economic shock to the global economy as aggregate demand collapses, supply chains are interrupted, and financial markets swing wildly. That's about 18 times higher than the previous four-week rolling average of 2,645 claims. Weekly claims are essentially the most well timed labor market indicator.
Wall Street jumps on hopes of US$2 trillion stimulus
USA gold futures settled 1.5 per cent lower at US$1,634.90 an ounce, a day after posting their biggest one-day jump since 2009. But even optimists say the package provides just the second leg of three that markets need to regain lasting confidence.
Yet as recently as Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said more than one million Californians had filed for unemployment benefits since March 13, in an unprecedented surge of joblessness for the country's most populous state. And within two weeks, I think, 155 shows had canceled.
In the meantime, Congress is set to approve a $2 trillion economic rescue package that broadly expands unemployment benefits, extending them to gig workers and freelancers. It includes more generous benefits and extend eligibility for benefits by 13 weeks.
Investors are likely to look past what promises to be one of the worst US jobless claims reports in history as they maintain a focus on the coronavirus' spread and details of the government's stimulus measures.
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