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New Mass. Jobless Claims In Pandemic Now Exceed 650,000

In this April 22 photo a closed sign is posted in the window of a store because of the coronavirus in an outdoor mall in Dedham. (Steven Senne/AP)
In this April 22 photo a closed sign is posted in the window of a store because of the coronavirus in an outdoor mall in Dedham. (Steven Senne/AP)

Labor officials reported another wave of surging new unemployment claims Thursday, bringing the total in Massachusetts over the past five weeks to more than 650,000, largely ex-workers whose employers are in forced shutdowns.

Between April 12 and April 18, 4.4 million more Americans and 80,345 more Massachusetts residents filed initial unemployment claims, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Both new figures were the lowest increases since late March, but still several times higher than any pre-pandemic record.

Weekly initial claims in Massachusetts during the coronavirus era peaked at 181,423 between March 22 and March 28.

New Massachusetts claims over the past five weeks alone represent more than 17 percent of the state's labor force.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak struck and prompted officials to close schools and non-essential businesses as a public health protection, the unemployment rate in Massachusetts was about 2.9 percent.

Nationwide, nearly 26.5 million Americans have filed for jobless aid since March 15.

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