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Over 7 million people are receiving some form of jobless benefits in the United States--more now than at any other time on record. At this time last year, just 2.8 million were drawing benefits. Another 652,000 more Americans joined their ranks last week, setting a new record for the ninth straight week.

Unemployment is generally considered a lagging indicator of economic downturns, so economists fear the numbers will continue to grow. Today's total jobless rate is 8.1 percent, but by year's end, economists predict the number will be in the double digits.

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