Washington: The number of unemployed workers receiving unemployment benefits jumped to an all-time high near 5 million earlier this month, while new jobless claims remain well above 600,000. Both figures were worse than expected and new projections from the Federal Reserve show unemployment rising for the rest of this year.
The Labour Department reported on Friday that the number of people receiving regular unemployment benefits edged up to 4.99 million, marking the fourth straight week those receiving benefits have been at a record level.
The continuing claims figure underscores the difficulty people are having in this recession finding another job, which means they are forced to receive benefits for a longer period.
An additional 1.5 million people are receiving benefits under an extended unemployment compensation program approved by Congress last year, bringing the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits to 6.54 million for the week ending 7 February.
New applications for unemployment benefits totalled 627,000 last week, the same as the previous week, according to the department. But that was still more than the 620,000 claims economists expected.
It also remained near the 631,000 claims filed three weeks ago, which was the highest tally since October 1982, when the economy was emerging from a steep recession, though the labour force has grown by about half since then.