US workers file 870,000 jobless claims as coronavirus total nears 62 million

US workers file 870,000 jobless claims as coronavirus total nears 62 million

September 24, 2020

Another 870,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market struggled to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, the feds said Thursday.

The latest filings ticked up slightly from the prior week’s revised total of 866,000 and brought the seasonally adjusted total for the coronavirus pandemic to about 61.9 million — a number equivalent to more than 38 percent of the nation’s workforce.

Jobless claims have stagnated in recent weeks as the COVID-19 crisis kept workers under pressure. Economists were expecting 850,000 filings this week, according to The Wall Street Journal, which would still have been well above the Great Recession’s peak of 665,000.

The weekly figures from the US Department of Labor are seen as a proxy for layoffs, suggesting that employers have continued to slash jobs as the economy tried to bounce back from the devastating lockdowns that drove unemployment to a record 14.7 percent in April.

“The recovery is losing momentum and further fiscal stimulus is needed to support jobs and incomes,” Bloomberg economist Eliza Winger said in a commentary.

But Congress has been deadlocked for weeks on another large-scale spending package to support the pandemic-battered economy. The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that’s expected to avert a government shutdown but only included a handful of economic support measures, such as a continued boost for food stamp spending.

The latest jobless claim figures came a week ahead of the feds’ monthly employment report for September. The closely watched data will likely show the economy adding 500,000 jobs this month, down from 1.4 million in August, according to Bloomberg Economics projections.

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