First-time jobless claims rise above 1 million again

New York (CNN Business)Another 1.1 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, dashing economists’ hopes for a second-straight week with fewer than 1 million claims.

Economists were optimistic that the US jobs market would be on a steady trajectory toward recovery. But last week’s claims exceeded forecasts after the previous week’s report was the first below 1 million since March, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.
Without seasonal adjustments, 891,510 people filed regular first-time claims for benefits. On top of that, 542,797 American workers claimed aid under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which Congress introduced during the pandemic. Adding these numbers together, unadjusted first-time claims stood at 1.4 million last week.

    Continued jobless claims, counting people who have filed regular claims for at least two weeks in a row, decreased from the prior week but remain very high at 14.8 million.
    All in all, nearly 28.1 million Americans were claiming benefits under the various government programs available in the week ending August 1, only about 200,000 fewer than in the previous week.

    After months of shocking economic data, these eyewatering big numbers might not seem as shocking anymore as they really are. But the road to recovery remains long and arduous.
    The Federal Reserve said in its July meeting minutes Wednesday that any rebound of the jobs market depends on a reopening and businesses, which in turn depends on the path of the virus and what we do to contain it.
    Meanwhile, those filing for benefits are no longer receiving the $600 weekly boost Washington put in place as part of the CARES Act, which expired at the end of July. Instead, benefits have dwindled to their regular amount, which is commonly less than workers made on their salaries.
    Since Congress has been unable to agree a new stimulus deal so far, President Donald Trump signed an executive action to boost jobless benefits by $300 per week by diverting disaster relief money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    But it might take a while until this money makes its way to people’s wallets. States will have to create a new system to pay out the executive action benefits because the money comes from a different pot of money and is subject to different rules. And that could take weeks.

      This is a developing story. It will be updated
      — Katie Lobosco contributed to this story.
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