First-time unemployment insurance claims last week fell below 1 million for the first time since March 21 in a sign that the labor market is continuing to recover from the coronavirus epidemic.
Claim totals of 963,000 for the week ended August 8 are far below the 1.1 million estimates from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. That represents a 228,000 decrease from the previous week’s totals.
The total number of jobless claims has risen to over 1million for 20 consecutive weeks as the US economy falls into a lockdown to contain Covid-19. The last time the total was below that number was March 14, with 282,000, as the first pandemic declared.
Although the number of less than 1 million reads marks an important milestone, there is still much work to be done to get the job market back to normal. Those who collected benefits for at least two weeks, called continuation claims, totaled nearly 15.5 million, down 604,000 from a week ago but still much higher than pre-pandemic levels.
The markets cut losses following the report, with Wall Street now showing the same amount of open shares.
The total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell sharply in the week ending July 25, dropping more than 3 million to 28.26 million, also showing a downward trend in unemployment. A year ago, that figure was 1.7 million.
Recipients under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program were 488,622, down 167,377 from a week ago. The program offers compensation to people who will generally not qualify for benefits as independent contractors.
At the state level, the strongest drop requests came from Florida (-23,180), New York (-21,905) and Texas (-11,233), in numbers that weren’t seasonally adjusted. The total unadjusted is 831,856, a decrease of 156,453. Some economists believe that the unadjusted number is more appropriate because the current situation surrounding the pandemic does not depend on the season.
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