The number of people filing new jobless claims jumped to more than 26 years high last week, as President met in London with G20 leaders to tackle the global economic crisis.

The Labor Department said on Thursday new applications for state jobless insurance benefits rose 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 669,000 on March 28, it is the highest level since the week ending October 2, 1982.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 650,000 new claims versus a previously reported count of 652,000 the prior week.

What it says to me is the persistence of unemployment, said T.J. Marta, chief market strategist at Marta on the Markets in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.

While the number of those continuing to receive benefits hit a 10th straight record-high, both figures show the labor market remains weak and is unlikely to recover soon.

Employers are eliminating jobs and taking cost-cutting measures to deal with sharp reductions in consumer and business spending. The current recession is the longest since World War II.

The Federal Reserve has cut a key benchmark interest rate to nearly zero in an effort to inject billions of dollars into the financial system.

The Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package, approved by Congress in February, is trying to counter the recession by providing money for public works projects.