The number of workers collecting state unemployment benefits rose to a record 5.56 million earlier this month, while new claims rose to 652,000 in the week ended March 21, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected continued claims to total about 5.48 million during the week ended March 14, the most recent data available. The number of new claims for the week of March 21 had been forecast at 650,000.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)