The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits remained in the millions for an eighth straight week as the economy continued to reel from the coronavirus pandemic.

Initial jobless claims in state programs totaled 2.98 million in the week ended May 9, Labor Department figures showed Thursday, following 3.18 million the prior week. While filings have eased for a sixth straight week, they failed to decline as much as economists had projected, with a median estimate of 2.5 million.

U.S. stocks fell at the open, while 10-year Treasury yields were lower and the dollar remained higher.

With the latest numbers, a total of 36.5 million applications for unemployment insurance have been filed since the virus began shutting down businesses in mid-March. That’s close to the level of all claims filed during the last recession, which ran for 18 months.

Continuing claims -- the total number of Americans already receiving unemployment benefits -- increased to a record 22.8 million in the week ended May 2. That sent the insured unemployment rate, measuring this figure as a share of the total eligible labor market, to 15.7% for that period. The 456,000 increase in continuing claims was the smallest in seven weeks.

There were two key anomalies in the latest report.

For unadjusted initial claims, Connecticut reported a surge to about 298,700 from 36,100 the prior week -- dwarfing any other state change.

Meanwhile, California’s continuing claims for the week ended May 2 plummeted to 2.87 million, cutting almost in half the number of people on benefits in the most populous state in just one week. That decline was well beyond other places for the period, with most states reporting increases.

State officials in Connecticut and California weren’t immediately available to comment.

The worse-than-expected data underscore the ongoing devastating impact of the coronavirus as dine-in restaurants and retailers remain largely closed and concerned Americans stay inside rather than spend. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday outlined a more-troubling economic scenario posed by the possibility of mass bankruptcies and unemployment.

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