More than a million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, signaling that pandemic-induced layoffs remain elevated even with the US economy reopening.
US weekly jobless claims totaled 1.3 million in the week that ended Saturday, the Labor Department said Thursday. That came in lower than the consensus economist estimate of 1.38 million compiled by Bloomberg.
In just a few months, the roughly 50 million unemployment claims filed during the coronavirus pandemic have far surpassed the 37 million during the 18-month Great Recession. Even though weekly claims have now consistently declined for 14 weeks in a row, the latest figure is still roughly double the 665,000 filed during the Great Recession’s worst week.
Continuing claims, which represent the aggregate total of people receiving unemployment benefits, came in at 18.1 million for the week that ended June 27, a decline from the prior period’s revised number.
Where the jobs report showed progress made as states across the US reopen and people go back to work, stubbornly high initial unemployment claims point to underlying weakness in the labor market. The US economy has still lost a net 14.7 million jobs since the pandemic began.
Economists will continue to watch unemployment claims carefully to gauge how the labor market is being impacted by a recent spike in coronavirus cases. On Tuesday, the US reported 60,000 new COVID-19 cases, a record single-day spike, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.