WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A record 22 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits over the past month, with millions more filing claims last week, underscoring the deepening economic slump caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

FILE PHOTO: People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, U.S. April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department followed dismal data on Wednesday showing a record drop in retail sales in March and the biggest decline in factory output since 1946. Economists are predicting the economy, which they believe is already in recession, contracted in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since

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