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Weekly jobless claims drop to 840,000 in first week of October

The number of Americans filing their first claims for unemployment benefits dropped to 840,000 during the first week of October, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department, falling 9,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

In the week ending on Oct. 3, a seasonally adjusted 840,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance were filed, roughly 20,000 claims above analysts’ expectations. The previous week's level was revised up by 12,000 from 837,000 to 849,000.

The unadjusted number of claims, which some economists say paint a more accurate picture of the coronavirus-wracked labor market, rose by 5,312 to a total of 804,307.

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Another 464,347 Americans applied for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which is meant to cover contractors, gig workers and others not typically eligible for standard unemployment insurance.

The latest batch of weekly jobless claims data shows the extent of the economic damage yet to be repaired the U.S. prepares to close its seventh month battling the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While claims have fallen from the staggering levels seen earlier this year, they remain almost 200,000 claims above the pre-pandemic record high of 695,000 in October 1982. More than 25 million Americans are on some form of jobless aid, and monthly job gains have declined in each of the past four months.

Unemployed Americans have also been receiving substantially less aid from the federal government after a $600 weekly boost to benefits expired on July 31.

Economists have warned that a failure to provide more support for the unemployed could force millions of households into financial peril and derail the recovery from the coronavirus recession.