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Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

This week's initial jobless claims report marked a sobering milestone — it was the 52nd straight week that more than 1 million Americans filed for unemployment assistance.

Why it matters: The applications for traditional or pandemic-based unemployment benefits continue despite more than $5 trillion in dedicated government spending and $3 trillion added to the Federal Reserve's balance sheet.

What it means: Including the global financial crisis, the 1973 oil crisis, the dot-com bubble burst and every other recession since 1967, only one week prior to the pandemic — the week ending Jan. 9, 1982 — now registers on the list of top 50 worst weeks for U.S. job losses, and it ranks 49th.

  • For many weeks during the pandemic, initial jobless claims totaled more than twice what they did during the worst week of the Great Recession.

Be smart: "Despite dramatically fewer cases, COVID-19 still is inflicting painfully high layoffs, and the latest week saw an unexpected surge in state unemployment claims," Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, said in an email.

  • "State claims remain above 700,000, and combined state and federal claims remain above 1 million, as they have since the economy crashed one year ago."

Yes, but: Excluding applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, numbers have been below 1 million since August, with the exception of one week in late January.

Yes, but, but: PUA is not the first recession-era jobless program. Following the Great Recession in 2008, Congress created similar programs through the Workforce Investment Act.

  • In fact, Congress enacted additional temporary unemployment programs in response to recessions in 1971, 1974, 1982, 1991, 2002 and 2008, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By the numbers: In 52 weeks, there have been more than 81 million first-time filings for jobless benefits.

  • There were 18.2 million people receiving some form of unemployment assistance in the U.S. as of Feb. 27.
  • A year prior, there were 2 million.

"This is evidence of the long-term scarring in the labor sector that, despite what is going to be a booming economy over the next two to three years, will not be repaired anytime soon and requires sustained policy attention," Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at tax advisory firm RSM, said in a note to clients.

On the bright side: "[A]s businesses reopen and vaccinations continue at an accelerating rate, we can expect steep drops in claims this spring," Frick said.

Go deeper

In photos: Students evacuated as wildfire burns historic Cape Town buildings

Firefighters try, in vain, to extinguish a fire in the Jagger Library, at the University of Cape Town, after a forest fire came down the foothills of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images

A massive wildfire spread from the foothills of Table Mountain to the University of Cape Town Sunday, burning historic South African buildings and forcing the evacuation of 4,000 students, per Times Live.

The big picture: Visitors to the Table Mountain National Park and other nearby attractions were also evacuated and several roads including a major highway, were closed. South Africa's oldest working windmill and the university's Jagger Library, which houses SA antiquities, are among the buildings damaged.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

3 killed, 2 wounded overnight in Kenosha bar shooting

Three people died and two others were hospitalized with serious injuries after a gunman entered bar in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, the police department said in a statement on Sunday.

The latest: Officers arrested a "person of interest" Sunday afternoon in connection with the 12:42 a.m. shooting and there's "no threat to the community at this time," per a later police statement.

Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

Big European soccer teams announce breakaway league

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) after striking the ball during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Liverpool F.C. and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, England, last Wednesday. Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

12 of world soccer's biggest and richest clubs announced Sunday they've formed a breakaway European "Super League" — with clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona Real Madrid, Juventus and A.C. Milan among those to sign up.

Why it matters: The prime ministers of the U.K. and Italy are among those to express concern at the move — which marks a massive overhaul of the sport's structure and finances, and it effectively ends the decades-old UEFA Champions League's run as the top tournament for European soccer.