New US jobless claims drop below one million, first time since March

In this file photo taken on August 9, 2020, a banner against renters eviction reading is displayed on a controlled rent building in Washington, DC. — AFP pic
In this file photo taken on August 9, 2020, a banner against renters eviction reading is displayed on a controlled rent building in Washington, DC. — AFP pic

WASHINGTON, Aug 13 — The US Labor Department today reported fewer than one million new weekly claims for unemployment benefits filed, for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March.

The data showed 963,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims filed in the week ended August 8, below expectations and a drop of 228,000 from the previous week.

The insured unemployment rate dropped 0.4 per centage points to 10.6 per cent in the week ended August 1, the latest week such data was available, with about 15.5 million people receiving benefits.

The number of people receiving benefits under a special program for those not normally eligible also decreased by more than 167,000 to 488,622 in the week ended August 8.

All told, nearly 28.3 million people were receiving some form of government aid in the week ended July 25, down more than three million from the week prior.

Yet that was many times above the 1.7 million people receiving benefits in the same week of 2019, indicating the damage done by lockdowns to stop Covid-19 that began in mid-March.

“Claims will remain elevated compared to historical levels and, given the likelihood of another round of layoffs in the offing among small and midsize firms due to insufficient demand as the economy continues to slow, claims may reverse,” Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US said on Twitter. — AFP

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