LINCOLN — First-time jobless claims soared to record levels last week in Nebraska as businesses dealt with restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The number of new people filing for unemployment hit 15,668 for the week that ended Saturday, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report. That was several times the 795 people who filed the prior week and sets a new weekly record for the state dating back to 1993.

Nationally, nearly 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week — more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982.

State Labor Commissioner John Albin said earlier that Nebraska saw a "large surge" in claims for the week ended March 21. The numbers likely will climb again this week.

Directed health measures imposed in Douglas, Sarpy, Washington and Cass Counties last week and voluntary restrictions in the rest of the state led to thousands of businesses closing or laying off workers. Lancaster, Saunders and Dodge Counties were put under similar restrictions Wednesday.