The U.S. Labor Department (DOL) reported Thursday (July 9) that another 1,314,000 American filed initial claims for jobless benefits last week, bringing the total number to more than 49 million since the pandemic began.
“The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment,” DOL said in a statement.
But the number is an improvement from the previous week’s revised level of 1,413,000, marking the 14th consecutive week initial claims have fallen.
Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst with Bankrate.com, said signs of modest improvement can be seen in new and continuing unemployment claims which dropped during the holiday-shortened week.
“Let’s not forget that new claims have remained extremely elevated and above the 1 million level for 16 consecutive weeks,” he said in a statement. “As the COVID-19 outbreak has recently intensified in some states, hopes for an accelerated, sustained and successful re-opening of the economy have hit roadblocks.”
Before the new data was released, economists told Bloomberg News they expected 1.375 million Americans to file for unemployment benefits last week.
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 27 were in Michigan (18,668), Indiana (15,496), Texas (7,046), Virginia (6,662) and Kentucky (5,794). The largest decreases were seen in Oklahoma (40,208), Florida (11,313), Maryland (9,926), Georgia (8,240) and California (7,132).
The latest data comes as the federal $600 weekly benefit from the CARES Act is set to expire at the end of July. So far, Congress has not agreed whether there will be an extension and what it might look like.
“While initial jobless claims remain historically high, at more than 1 million per week, this is a gross rather than net number,” Wells Fargo said in a note July 2. “The actual number of people collecting unemployment continues to steadily decline, as shown by the move down in continuing claims.”