The federal government reported on Thursday that 757,000 workers filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, a drop of 73,000 from the previous week but still a stubbornly high rate as the incipient economic recovery struggles to maintain a foothold.
Another 345,000 new claims were filed under a federal jobless program that provides benefits to freelancers, part-time workers and others during the pandemic. Neither figure is seasonally adjusted.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, new state claims totaled 787,000.
The latest evidence of continuing stress in the labor market comes as coronavirus cases are again surging in the United States and as a second round of federal relief faces opposition from Senate Republicans over a possible $2 trillion price tag.
“The claims remain very elevated, and the lack of continuing fiscal aid for the unemployed is going to weigh on consumer attitudes and consumer spending,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics. “It’s a very painful reality for those households who were relying on it.”
Seven months into the pandemic, the nature of the job losses is changing. The hope that business interruptions would be brief and that most laid-off workers would quickly be rehired has faded. Every week, more Americans join the ranks of the long-term unemployed, defined as those out of work for more than 27 weeks.
“We’re in a new phase of jobless claims,” said Ernie Tedeschi, managing director and policy economist for Evercore ISI. “More and more people are exhausting their initial 26 weeks of state unemployment.”