Nearly 879,000 Californians filed during the week ending March 28, which is nearly five times more than the previous week's number. Those last two weeks total more than 1 million people statewide.
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Many of the layoffs in the state were in the service industry, according to the DOL report.
Nationwide, the number reached 6.6 million last week. Combined with the previous week's 3.3 million, a total of nearly 10 million people have filed for unemployment over the last two weeks.
Experts say the number is likely to get worse.
"I think the unemployment numbers are higher than what they are, and I think in the future it could go higher," said Brian Gilder, a financial planner.
One of the key players in the increase in unemployment numbers, Gilder said, is small business.
"If we don't take care of the small business owner then I think we are going to see the unemployment go higher," he said.
The $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last week includes a provision called the Payment Protection Program. The PPP gives loans to small businesses that could be forgiven if the money is used to pay for necessity expenses such as payroll, rent or utilities.
"Which is huge, huge for small-business owners," Gilder said.