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4.4 million more Americans sought jobless benefits last week

More than 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the Labor Department, a signal that the tidal wave of job losses continues to grow.

The new total comes on top of 22 million Americans who had sought benefits in previous weeks, overwhelming state processing systems. The velocity of job losses since March is unprecedented.

Economists estimate that the national unemployment rate sits between 15 and 20 percent, much higher than it was during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.

The unemployment rate at the peak of the Great Depression was about 25 percent.