It was the lowest number of initial weekly requests since mid-March, when the pandemic shut down the US economy.
For 20 straight weeks, the number of people reporting unemployment for the first time steadily plummeted to more than 1 million, reaching nearly 7 million at the end of March.
While the decline is a positive sign, the numbers are still historically high. In the same week a year ago, 218,000 people applied for initial benefits.
Even during the Great Recession a little over a decade ago, unemployment claims were not as high as in the current crisis.
Another lesson from the Great Recession: it took almost five years – from its peak in 2009 to 2014 – for the claims to go down to where they were before the financial crisis.
Although the total from last week is an improvement, it does not include claims of pandemic unemployment benefits, a program created by Congress after the Covid-19 hit. Adding these, first-level cumulative claims behind the figure above one million, to 1.3 million on an unacceptable basis.
That said, economists say it is encouraging that unemployment claims are declining because it means people continue to return to work.
Persistent unemployment claims, which count people who have filed unemployment benefits for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 15.5 million on a seasonally adjusted basis. Without adjustment, the number was 15.2 million.
Counting all state unemployment programs, 28.3 million people were seeking some form of assistance in the week ending July 25th.
“The reality is that millions of people have lost their jobs,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at Labor Labor. “These people are facing rising bills, and they are struggling to find work. The expiration of the expanded federal unemployment benefit of $ 600 has only added to the dire situation they face.
“Meanwhile the source of all this economic hardship, the coronavirus remains out of control,” she added.
– Tami Luhby contributed to this report.