A record number of Americans are applying for unemployed insurance as new jobless claims soared to a more than 26-year high, according to government data released Thursday.
Meanwhile, productivity soared at the end of last year as companies cut the number of hours worked faster than output declined, a reflection of the massive number of layoffs.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of laid-off workers seeking jobless benefits rose last week to a seasonally adjusted 626,000, from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 591,000. The latest total is far more than analysts' expectations of 583,000.
That's also the highest since October 1982, when the economy was in a steep recession, though the work force has grown by about half since then.
Source: MSNBC.com, Jobless Claims Soar in Grim Labor Market