The figures also depicted a sharply uneven job market: The losses last month were concentrated among restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues — places that provide in-person services that some governments have restricted or that consumers are avoiding.
Many more Americans are receiving jobless aid from two federal programs — one that provides extended benefits to people who have exhausted their state aid and another that supplies benefits to self-employed and contract workers.
In addition to the first-time applications for unemployment aid last week, the government said Thursday that 5.3 million Americans are continuing to receive state jobless benefits, up from 5.1 million in the previous week.
Last spring, after nationwide shutdowns took effect, applications for jobless benefits spiked to nearly 7 million — 10 times the previous record high.
WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking unemployment aid soared last week to 965,000, the most since late August and evidence that the resurgent virus has caused a spike in layoffs.