The number of newly-laid off Americans signing up for unemployment aid rose to the highest level in 26 years last week.
Thursday's report from the U.S. Labor Department says first-time claims rose slightly (by 12,000) to hit 669,000 - the worst performance since 1982.
The report also shows that the number of people collecting jobless aid for more than one week hit yet another record high above 5.7 million.
Government experts publish a more detailed look at the battered U.S. job market on Friday, when they report the unemployment rate for March.
Economists surveyed by news organizations predict the jobless rate will surge four-tenths of a percent to hit 8.5 percent, the highest level in more than two decades.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.