The US recorded 5.2 million unemployment claims last week taking the total over the past month to more than 20 million.
It is the worst stretch of American job losses on record, with much of the world’s biggest economy at a standstill thanks to lockdown measures put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.
It comes as Donald Trump insists that the number of new cases in the US has passed its peak and stressed his keenness to re-start the economic activity, claiming the country will be the “comeback kid”.
The latest figures from Washington’s department of labour mean roughly 22 million people have sought jobless benefits in the last four weeks.
All businesses seen as non-essential have been closed in nearly every state with deep job losses inflicted on every industry.
Some economists think the unemployment rate will rise as high as 20%, soaring past the damage inflicted during the financial crisis just over a decade ago to a level unmatched since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Lay-offs are spreading beyond the likes of hotels, bars and restaurants which absorbed the initial job cuts, to encompass white collar occupations including software programmers and sales people.
The latest figures underscore the likelihood that the US, like other advanced economies, is being tipped into a severe recession by the impact of the coronavirus crisis.