The number of Americans who filed for jobless benefits fell below one million for the first time since late March, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported on Thursday (Aug. 13).
The drop represents the second consecutive week that unemployment claims have fallen, a sign that the nation is continuing to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is certainly welcome news to chalk up two straight weeks of declines in new claims, finally dropping below the one million level [and] ending a devastating 20-week string,” said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com's senior economic analyst, in a statement.
For the week ending Aug. 8, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 963,000, down 228,000 from last week’s level, which was revised up by 5,000 from 1,186,000 to 1,191,000.
“Autumn begins soon, and with it the risk that the outbreak could see another economically damaging spike, as people resume more indoor activities and some school students return to in-person learning,” said Hamrick. “It remains quite stunning that Congress has yet to agree on a fresh round of relief legislation with so many Americans hurting financially.”
Thursday’s DOL report ends what had been a 20-week streak of new claims that totaled more than one million. Since the week ending March 20, more than 56 million Americans have filed new unemployment insurance claims.
On Wednesday (Aug. 12), PYMNTS reported that the additional $400 a week in jobless benefits extended by President Donald Trump last weekend may run out much sooner than anticipated.
On Aug. 8, Trump signed an executive order that would provide $300 a week in additional unemployment benefits from the federal government, along with a $100 payment by individual states. But the funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has only enough cash to last about six weeks, a DOL official told The Wall Street Journal.
The president’s action came as the $600 weekly federal help from the stimulus expired at the end of July. Congress has been unable to reach an agreement on extending the benefit.