The number of Americans who applied for jobless benefits fell slightly last week as the nation’s employers continue to cut large numbers of workers amid COVID-19, according to data released Thursday (Oct. 1) by the U.S Department of Labor (DOL).
For the week ending Sept. 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 837,000, down 36,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 3,000 from 870,000 to 873,000. Economists were expecting 850,000 filings.
In a wrinkle in the data, DOL noted California, which accounts for more than 25 percent of unemployment benefits applications, stopped accepting jobless claims so it could tackle a backlog of 600,000 claims. The state provided the same figure it submitted the previous week as it implemented fraud prevention technology.
Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate, said while new unemployment claims were down last week, they remain historically elevated.
“This marks 28 weeks since the COVID-19 caused downturn ignited an eruption of historic and, as we see once again, sustained job loss, even as some employers bring employees back to work,” Hamrick said in a statement. “In recent days, there’s been word of combined thousands of job cuts beyond some of the usual suspects, in terms of sectors where job loss has been common.”
The Associated Press reported the Walt Disney Co. said this week that it planned to cut 28,000 jobs in Florida and California as attendance limits were imposed in response to the coronavirus.
United and American Airlines announced plans to furlough 32,000 employees after Congress and the White House failed to agree on a pandemic relief package that would extend the aid to airlines. The airlines were prohibited from cutting jobs as long as they received government assistance.
In addition, Allstate said it will trim 7.5 percent of its workforce or 3,800 jobs.
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Sept. 19 were in New York (7,893), Georgia (7,336), Massachusetts (5,186), New Jersey (5,038) and Oregon (3,251). Decreases were largest in Maryland (2,197), Michigan (2,169), Indiana (1,543), Illinois (1,408) and Louisiana (1,340).