WASHINGTON - 2.4 million U.S. workers filed jobless claims last week even as curbs on businesses began lifting, bringing the 9-week total to more than 38 million.

Even as restrictions on businesses began lifting across the United States, another 2.4 million workers filed for jobless benefits last week, the government reported, bringing the total to 38 million in nine weeks.

“The hemorrhaging has continued,” Torsten Slok, chief economist for Deutsche Bank Securities, said of the mounting job losses. He expects the official jobless rate for May to approach 20 percent, up from the 14.7 percent reported by the Labor Department for April.