The number of people within the United States filing for unemployment skyrocketed this past week, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Labor Department.

Terminations and furloughs caused by the spread of the coronavirus and subsequent efforts to contain it have many people seeking financial assistance—a whopping 3.28 million people.

“A total of 3.28 million people filed for unemployment insurance in the week ended March 21, dwarfing previous highs in Labor Department reports published since 1967. Two weeks earlier, before the closures swept across vast swaths of the country, the number stood at 211,000, close to a half-century low,” Bloomberg News reports.

That’s 3.28 million people in just one week, from March 15th to the 21st.

Bloomberg adds:

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  • Pennsylvania reported the biggest number of claims, with an estimated 378,900

  • California claims rose by 129,200 to 186,800



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  • In New York state, where approximately half of all known coronavirus cases in the U.S. are located, claims rose by 66,000 to 80,300

  • Ohio claims rose to an estimated 187,800

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  • Illinois claims rose to 114,700

  • Florida claims rose to 74,000

  • Michigan claims jumped to 129,300

CNBC reports the new figure “shatters the Great Recession peak of 665,000 in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982.”

According to the report, the total number of unemployment insurance claims dwarfed even expert estimates:

The previous week, which reflected the period before the worst of the coronavirus hit, was 282,000, which was higher than expected at the time.

Consensus estimates from economists surveyed by Dow Jones showed an expectation for 1.5 million new claims, though individual forecasts on Wall Street had been anticipating a much higher number. The surge comes amid a crippling slowdown brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during an interview on NBC’s “Today” that the rise of unemployment claims was unique to the coronavirus and is not a signal of any further economic downturn.

“This is a unique situation. People need to understand, this is not a typical downturn,” he said. “At a certain point, we will get the spread of the virus under control.”

“At that time, confidence will return, businesses will open again, people will come back to work,” he continued. “So you may well see a significant rise in unemployment, a significant decline in economic activity. But there can also be a good rebound on the other side of that.”

Here’s more from CNBC:

Businesses across the country have shut down amid a policy of social distancing aimed at keeping COVID-19′s growth in check. Individual states have reported websites crashing amid a rush to file.

“We’ve known this number was coming for a week and a half,” said Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of the LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based employment agency. “It doesn’t surprise me at all. When you see a city like Las Vegas get shut down, I don’t know what other options there were than seeing a number like this.”

Jobless claims are considered the quickest window into current economic conditions. Most data reports in recent weeks reflect periods before the worst of the coronavirus hit and have been showing the U.S. in relatively good shape heading into the crisis.