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America's stunning unemployment surge during coronavirus, visualized

Not even during the peak of the Great Recession did the unemployment numbers come close to the initial spikes.
An unemployment line in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 1974
An unemployment line in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 1974.Allan Tannenbaum / Getty Images file

The ranks of the unemployed are swelling in ways not seen before since the coronavirus crisis. Another 1.5 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, bringing the total to 45.4 million since the March 14. Numbers began surging as state-ordered coronavirus lockdowns brought huge swaths of the economy to a halt.

Not even during the peak of the Great Recession did the unemployment numbers come close to the initial spikes — with 665,000 people applying for benefits the week of March 28, 2009 — and the numbers that followed. The interactive chart below, dating back to 1967, shows the stunning surge in claims over the past couple weeks.

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