Unemployment insurance claims last week fell below 1 million for the first time since March 21 in a sign that the job market is continuing its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The total claim of 963,000 for the week ended August 8 was well below the estimate of 1.1 million by economists surveyed by Dow Jones. This represented a drop of 228,000 from last week’s total.
Unemployment claims had reached over 1million for 20 weeks in a row after the US economy stalled to upgrade to Covid-19. The last time the total was below that number was March 14, with 282,000, just as the pandemic statement was hit for the first time.
While reading below 1 million marks a milestone, there is still much work to be done to get the job market back to normal. Those who accumulate benefits for at least two weeks, known as persistent claims, reached nearly 15.5 million, a drop of 604,000 from a week earlier, but still well above pre-pandemic levels.
Markets cut losses after the report, with Wall Street now showing a flat open for shares.
Total Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell sharply for the week ended July 25, more than 3 million to 28.26 million, also showing a downward trend in unemployment. A year ago, that number was 1.7 million.
Those who benefited from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program totaled 488,622, a drop of 167,377 from a week earlier. The program provides compensation to those who would not normally be eligible for benefits such as independent contractors.
At the state level, the largest declines in claims came from Florida (-23,180), New York (-21,905) and Texas (-11,233), according to unadjusted numbers for seasonality. The total unadjusted total was 831,856, a decrease of 156,453. Some economists say the unwarranted number is more important as the current circumstances surrounding the pandemic are not subject to seasonality.
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