US weekly jobless claims fall below 1 million for the first time since March

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  • New US jobless claims for the week that ended Saturday totaled 963,000, the Labour Department said Thursday. That came in below the consensus economist estimate of 1.1 million.
  • This week’s report brought total filings over a 21-week period to more than 56 million.
  • Continuing claims, the aggregate total of people receiving unemployment benefits, totaled 15.5 million for the week that ended August 1.
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Fewer than 1 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment insurance last week, a milestone during the pandemic yet still a sign of widespread pain in the job market.

New US weekly jobless claims totaled 963,000 in the week that ended Saturday, the Labour Department reported Thursday. That came in below the consensus economist estimate of 1.1 million compiled by Bloomberg.

The weekly number is the lowest level of new jobless claims seen since the coronavirus pandemic froze the US economy. It marked a second straight weekly decline following two consecutive weeks of increases, and it’s the first time during the pandemic in which the number has been below 1 million.

In just a few months, the more than 56 million unemployment claims filed during the coronavirus pandemic have far surpassed the 37 million during the 18-month Great Recession. The latest figure is still well above the 665,000 claims filed during the Great Recession’s worst week.

“It’s promising that initial unemployment claims (non-seasonally adjusted) have fallen, but there’s still a long road ahead,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at Indeed Hiring Lab. “The sheer magnitude of the claims five months into the crisis underscores how much coronavirus has battered the economy.”


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Continuing claims, which represent the aggregate total of people receiving unemployment benefits, came in at 15.5 million for the week that ended August 1, a decline from the prior period’s revised number.

Other figures similarly point to the slow pace of the US recovery. The monthly jobs report, released last week, found the pace of the economic recovery slowing in July even though more jobs were recovered than lost. In addition, the unemployment rate, while lower than in June, remained above 10% – higher than at any point during the Great Recession.

The elevated unemployment figures remain a threat to the economic recovery, especially now that out-of-work Americans are receiving less each week. At the end of July, the additional $US600 weekly unemployment insurance benefit, established in March through the CARES Act, expired, slashing income for millions.


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Lawmakers have been unable to come to an agreement on how to extend benefits in a new round of coronavirus stimulus. Democrats have pushed to extend the full $US600 enhancement, while Republicans have proposed a lower amount.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump passed four executive orders, including one that established a $US400 weekly unemployment benefit, with states responsible for 25% of the amount. On Tuesday, the Trump administration said it would cut the amount to $US300 weekly after some states said they couldn’t afford to pay their $US100 share.

Talks between congressional Democrats and the White House over the next stimulus bill have stalled, suggesting that a deal may not happen this week.


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