More than 104,000 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits in Missouri last week, recording a number two and a half times what it was two weeks ago and 26 times higher than it was three weeks ago.

The number of claims received in the past two weeks is now more than half of what the state received in all of 2019.

A week ago, the state saw roughly 42,000 new claims, a number the state labor director called "incredible."

At his daily briefing, Gov. Mike Parson asked the newly unemployed for patience with the state’s unemployment processing center at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

"We are very aware of the fact that people are struggling to get through to the Department of Labor," Parson said. "But what we need Missourians to realize is that unemployment claims are at unimaginable historical highs. The Department of Labor is receiving more than 100,000 calls each day."

Recently passed federal relief legislation extends unemployment benefits to workers not usually covered, such as people who are self-employed. It also provides an extra $600 per week to people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

Those benefits will be available to people who filed their initial claim on March 29 or later, Parson said, and will be paid after the federal government sends the state the money to do so.

The eye-popping numbers follow weeks of the coronavirus forcing business shutdowns and layoffs, especially in service and retail sectors that employ millions across the country.

They also come after Congress passed a bill that will temporarily expand benefits to groups like the self-employed, gig workers and part-time workers who are usually barred from seeking them.

Nationally, more than 6.6 million people filed for benefits last week, setting a record for the second week in a row. The previous week had seen roughly 3.3 million new claims, which was four times more than the previous record peak in October 1982.

Those numbers mean 10 million workers have sought benefits in just two weeks, more than the 8.8 million who lost jobs at the worst point in the Great Recession.

And since those claims were made, the economic damage has continued to spread. The state Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development has received 11 notices this week about mass layoffs, for 900 jobs. Only employers laying off more than 50 people — or a high percentage of their workforce for smaller companies — must make those notices to the state.

And it's not clear where it will end.

The spread of the novel coronavirus has prompted more than 30 states to issue stay-at-home orders forcing "non-essential" businesses to shut down and limiting restaurants to carryout and delivery.

Missouri is one of the handful of states that has not issued a statewide stay-at-home order, but the state's largest cities, including Springfield and Columbia, have gone ahead with their own.

The speed at which the measures curtail the virus' spread will effectively determine the speed of the recovery.

An analysis by the Brookings Institution found that in Springfield alone, 34,195 jobs, or 16.7 percent of the metro area's total, are in five industries at high risk of taking a hit.

Those industries include hospitality and transportation as well as travel arrangements, which could include workers at businesses like Expedia, a company employing hundreds in the area.

The analysis by Brookings found that in Columbia, 15,571 jobs, or 15.6 percent of the metro area's total, are in five industries at high risk of taking a hit, including hospitality and transportation.

It could be worse, though. Joplin leads the state with 17.4 percent of its jobs in those "high-risk" industries, and in tourism and entertainment hubs like Maui, Atlantic City and Las Vegas, those percentages are in the 30s and 40s.

Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist of Oxford Economics, told USA TODAY he expected a total of 22 million job losses by May before the outbreak eases and the economy and labor market begin to revive.

And Miguel Faria-e-Castro, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, wrote in a blog post that the unemployment rate could be 32 percent by the end of June after some "back-of-the-envelope" math.

Faria-e-Castro added, however, that it could be argued how long people stay unemployed matters more than the unemployment rate itself, "especially if the recovery is quick (and so duration is short)."

"These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years," he wrote.

Rudi Keller of the Columbia Daily Tribune contributed to this report.