Applications for state U.S. unemployment benefits decreased last week following an unexpected jump, indicating the labor market’s gradual recovery is back on track as Covid-19 infections ease from a surge in the prior two months.
Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell by 98,000 to 1.01 million in the week ended Aug. 22, in line with economists’ estimates, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Continuing claims — the total number of Americans claiming ongoing unemployment assistance in those programs — also dropped in the week ended Aug. 15, though remained extremely elevated at 14.5 million.
The S&P edged higher, extending Wednesday’s rally that pushed the index to another record close.
The report suggests the jobs market continues to gradually recover amid a pullback in new Covid-19 cases, with next week’s monthly report projected to show another 1.6 million net payroll gains in August. At the same time, claims remain far above pre-pandemic levels, and risks to further improvement include a drying-up of government support for businesses and lawmakers’ failure to to extend support for cash-strapped companies and jobless Americans.
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