New unemployment claims fall BELOW one million for the first time since March

Unemployment claims have now fallen below one million for the first time since the pandemic was announced in March:

CNBC – First-time claims for unemployment insurance last week fell below 1 million for the first time since March 21 in a sign that the labor market is continuing its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The total claims of 963,000 for the week ended Aug. 8 was well below the estimate of 1.1 million from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. That represented a decline of 228,000 from the previous week’s total.

Jobless claims had totaled above 1 million for 20 consecutive weeks as the U.S. economy went into lockdown to contain Covid-19. The last time the total was below that number was March 14, with 282,000, just as the pandemic declaration first hit.

Those already receiving unemployment benefits also fell:

Those collecting benefits for at least two weeks, known as continuing claims, totaled nearly 15.5 million, a decrease of 604,000 from a week ago but still well above pre-pandemic levels.

The total Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell sharply for the week ended July 25, down more than 3 million to 28.26 million, also pointing to a downward trend in joblessness. A year ago, that number was 1.7 million.

Those receiving benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program totaled 488,622, a decline of 167,377 from a week ago. The program provides compensation to those who normally wouldn’t be eligible for benefits such as independent contractors.

There is still a ways go to but it’s nice to see the country moving in the right direction. And consider that some states, like North Carolina, are still stuck in half-capacity phase 2 and aren’t fully open yet. As we go to phase 3 and higher, all of these numbers should get even better.

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