New unemployment claims remained at near-historic levels this week in Massachusetts and nationwide, and the Federal Reserve on Thursday morning took sweeping action to direct $2.3 billion in relief loans to help businesses and state and local governments address cash flow needs.

The simultaneous announcements of updated unemployment application figures and central bank action reflect the latest evidence of a dire economic picture amid the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to address the situation.

An additional 6.6 million seasonally adjusted initial claims were filed nationwide from March 29 to Saturday, according to data published Thursday by the federal Department of Labor. Over the same span, the non-seasonally adjusted number of new claims in Massachusetts totaled more than 139,000.

The 6.6 million new claims filed during the week ending April 4 represented a decrease of about 261,000 over the record set for the week ending March 28, which was slightly revised in Thursday's update. Even with a decline, new claims still were about 10 times higher than the February 2009 weekly peak during the Great Recession.

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