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Another 141,420 New Jerseyans filed new unemployment claims last week, bringing the four-week total of layoffs and furloughs in the state after coronavirus-related shutdowns to more than 718,300.

That was the smallest increase in the last four weeks but far above any records set before the current pandemic.

The staggering number of new claims in the last month is more than five times greater than New Jersey's previous record spike in unemployment claims, 137,281 in the month after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

In fact, it exceeds any entire 12-month period since the Great Recession, when new claims in a year peaked at 765,421 in October 2009 -- but even then, never topped 54,301 in a one-month period.

The current economic collapse is far sharper than the Great Recession. The only question remains whether it will last as long.

There were 429,388 state residents receiving unemployment benefits last week, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, eclipsing the record 276,119 that had been set one week earlier. Previously, the highest number of simultaneous continuing claims in the state had been 230,268 in March 2009.

The labor department said the number of people receiving benefits is certain to rise considerably as more claims are processed. It said it typically takes two to three weeks to receive an eligibility determination, once all the required information has been submitted.

The state paid out nearly $425 million in unemployment in the six-week period from March 2 to April 10, including more than $140 million last week.

Nationally, another 5.245 million people filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, down from 6.6 million a week earlier.

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