Weekly jobless claims tick down, but remain above 1 million

Weekly jobless claims tick down, but remain above 1 million

Roughly 1.3 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits during the second week of July, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.

In the week ending July 11, the total number of seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled fell by 10,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 1,310,000 claims. The non-seasonally adjusted total number of claims, however, increased by more than 100,000 claims to 1,503,892 in total.

Unemployed workers also filed 928,488 claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in 47 states, a program created to provide benefits to gig workers, contractors and other jobless individuals who do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance. 

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While initial jobless claims continued their steady decline since mid-April, they still remain well above pre-pandemic averages despite two consecutive months of net job gains.

The U.S. has recovered roughly 8 million of the more than 20 million jobs lost since the coronavirus pandemic forced thousands of businesses to close in March, powered by millions of workers returning from furlough. But weekly jobless claims have remained above 1 million since late March as the number of permanent job losses steadily increase.

“While some of this may be related to temporary new lockdowns, the reality is these numbers have remained elevated. What this looks like is continued job loss and continued permanent business closures,” wrote Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork, in a Thursday tweet.

“When a business closes permanently, those lost jobs are not replaced quickly. Do not forget it took us a decade after the Great Recession to get back to just close to, not even at, full employment,” he continued.

The second week of July marks the 17th consecutive week of jobless claims above 1 million after peaking at 6.8 million in the final week of March. Weekly jobless claims averaged around 200,000 before the pandemic-driven recession and topped out at 690,000 in October 1982 before the coronavirus wracked the U.S. this year.

Updated 9:02 a.m.