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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of new people signing up for unemployment benefits last week shot up to the highest level in more than two years, fresh evidence of the damage to a national economy clobbered by housing, credit and financial crises.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications filed for unemployment insurance jumped by a seasonally adjusted 38,000 to 407,000 for the week ending March 29. The increase left claims at their highest point since Sept. 17, 2005
Meanwhile, the number of people continuing to collect unemployment benefits rose by a sharp 97,000 to 2.94 million for the week ending March 22, the most recent period for which that information is available. That was the highest since July 17, 2004.
There are 3 million people collecting unemployment benefits in this country, not counting the underemployed or the ones who've run out of benefits or the ones who never qualified for benefits like contractors and small business owners who are just left to tough it out on their own.