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Jobless Claims Milestone Is Short-Lived

Number of people seeking benefits rises back above 1M for the week
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 20, 2020 9:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – The number of laid-off workers seeking US unemployment benefits rose to 1.1 million last week after two weeks of declines, evidence that many employers are still slashing jobs as the coronavirus bedevils the economy, per the AP. The latest figures, released Thursday by the Labor Department, suggest that more than five months after the viral outbreak erupted the economy is still weak, despite recent gains as some businesses reopen and some sectors like housing and manufacturing have rebounded. Jobless claims had fallen last week below 1 million for the first time since March, to 971,000. A rising number of people who have lost jobs say they consider their loss to be permanent.

Meanwhile, the total number of people receiving unemployment aid declined last week from 15.5 million to 14.8 million, the government said Thursday. That's good news, but the Wall Street Journal has some context: Both the figure of 1.1 million and the total of 14.8 million "remain above the worst before the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of people receiving benefits more than double the 6.6 million reached in 2009." Also, recipients are now receiving less aid because a $600-a-week federal benefit has expired, which means the unemployed must now get by solely on much smaller aid from their states. The loss of the federal benefit has deepened the struggles for many, including a higher risk of eviction from their homes.

(Read more unemployment stories.)

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