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Total of those receiving unemployment benefits falls below 20 million

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Jobless claims totaled 1.48 million last week as unemployment related to the coronavirus pandemic remained stubbornly high, though those receiving benefits fell below 20 million for the first time in two months.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting 1.35 million claims.

While the weekly numbers remained high and were worse than expectations for the second straight week, the total of those receiving benefits continued to fall. Total recipients, or continuing claims, fell by 767,000 to 19.52 million.

There also were 728, 120 initial claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

The most recent number marked the 14th straight week that filings remained above 1 million, a total first eclipsed for the week ended March 21. That was shortly after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic and much of the U.S. economy went into lockdown.

Claims had never been above a million prior to that. The coronavirus-era record is just shy of 6.9 million, hit in late March.

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