April 9 (UPI) -- More than 6.6 million people in the United States filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The department said 6,606,000 initial claims were filed for the week ending April 4. It also revised the prior week's claims up by 219,000.
Last week's claims represented a decrease of 261,000 compared to the prior week.
Thursday's report continued a surge of unemployment following lockdown conditions for workers in 43 states under stay-at-home orders.
Non-essential businesses -- especially in retail -- were either closed or sharply curtailed in areas affecting 95 percent of the U.S. population.
Thursday's figures came on top of the nearly 10 million claims made during the final two weeks of March, including a record 6.6 million the last week.
Some analysts had expected 5.5 million new filings, while others expected more. Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted 6.5 million initial claims, while JP Morgan Chase had estimated an all-time-high of 7 million.
The latest numbers included losses that came after more state and local governments instituted wider restrictions affecting a much broader range of retail sectors.
Some economists estimated the joblessness surge has already pushed the actual U.S. unemployment rate above 10 percent. The official figure for March was 4.4 percent.