Some 884,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis stalled once again, new data show.
That means a seasonally adjusted total of 60.1 million initial jobless claims have flooded unemployment offices during the COVID-19 pandemic — a number larger than the entire population of South Africa.
Last week’s filings were unchanged from the prior week’s revised total of 884,000 as businesses tried to recover from virus-related lockdowns that led to record job losses in April, Thursday’s US Department of Labor figures showed.
The latest number outpaced with economists’ expectations for 850,000 filings and was still well above the pre-pandemic record of 695,000 claims in a single week, as well as the Great Recession’s peak of 665,000.
Continuing claims, which measure ongoing joblessness on a one-week lag, increased to roughly 13.39 million in the week ending Aug. 29 from about 13.29 million the prior week.
Thursday’s report was the latest sign that the labor market is slowly trudging back from the devastation the pandemic caused this spring. It came on the heels of last week’s jobs report showing the economy added 1.4 million jobs in August — down from 1.7 million added in July — while the unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent from a peak of 14.7 percent in April.
The headline jobless claim numbers can only be directly compared with the prior week’s because the Labor Department recently changed its method for making seasonal adjustments to the data.