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US unemployment claims hit record amid coronavirus lockdown

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The number of people without jobs in the US has surged to a record high as the economy goes into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 3.3 million people registered to claim unemployment benefits for the week ended 21 March, according to Department of Labor data.

The previous record was set in 1982, when unemployment claims hit 695,000.

The spike marks an abrupt end to years of slow and steady job market expansion.

It comes as officials in states across the country close restaurants, bars, movie theatres, hotels and gyms. Car firms have halted production and air travel has fallen precipitously.

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