JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Applications for jobless benefits are surging in some states as coronavirus concerns shake the U.S. economy.

The sharp increase comes as governments have ordered millions of workers, students and shoppers to stay home as a precaution against spreading the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

In some states, the demand for help may outstrip the ability to pay claims.

The U.S. Labor Department says 21 states began the year with unemployment insurance fund balances below the levels recommended to stay solvent in a recession.

States are expected to get some help from the federal government.

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