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Not only did the number of Americans filing unemployment claims unexpectedly climb last week to the highest level since 1982 but those staying on unemployment benefits jumped to a record as well due to companies continuing to cut jobs to trim costs.

First-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 12,000 for the week ending March 28, hitting the highest level since October 1982 as the number of people staying on benefit rolls soared in the prior week to 5.73 million. Those collecting unemployment benefits jumped 161,000 to 5.73 million, a level that is 96% greater than in the prior year.

According to the median projection of 43 economists in a Bloomberg News survey, initial claims were expected to fall to 650,000 from 652,000 Estimates ranged from 630,000 to 682,000.

“It is difficult to sustain any rebound in consumer spending when you have such sharp declines in employment,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. “It’s getting harder to get a job once you lose it.”

It is expected the Labor Department tomorrow may say the jobless rate last month climbed to 8.5%, the highest level since 1983, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Payrolls are expected to fall by 660,000 workers, bringing total job losses since the downturn began to about 5 million.

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