Last week's jump marked a massive increase from a revised 282,000 claims in the prior week. Prior to the pandemic, initial claims had been hovering in the low 200,000s each week, reflecting a strong job market.
The last couple of weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has forced many businesses to suddenly shut down as the country tries to slow the spreading virus. For many businesses, that also means laying off or furloughing workers, at least temporarily.
Economists now expect the US economy to fall into a recession in the second quarter, before staging a comeback later in the year after the spread of the virus slows.