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A Record-Shattering 6.6 Million Americans Filed For Unemployment Last Week

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

More than 6.6 million - that is the number of new people who claimed unemployment benefits just last week according to the Department of Labor. A staggering leap - double last week's number and that one broke records, too.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

So that means nearly 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks. Another way to look at it - nearly all of the jobs gained in the last five years have been lost.

KELLY: With such massive numbers, what does it feel like if you're one person sitting at home trying to connect with your state's unemployment office?

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE LINE RINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: ...Complete your call at this time. Please try again later.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Gracias. Adios.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: We are currently receiving more calls than we can answer. Please try...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: For faster service, use UI online at edd.ca.gov/...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Due to unusually heavy call volume, all agents are busy servicing customers.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEPING)

CHANG: That is the sound of trying to call in claims in some of the states with the highest unemployment figures, like Michigan, California and Florida.

KELLY: So analysts say even today's lofty number is low because so many states' employment offices are overwhelmed, making it difficult for applicants to get through. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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