First-time jobless claims held steady last week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported on Thursday (Sept. 10).
For the week ending Sept. 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 884,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 3,000 from 881,000 to 884,000.
All told, the number of people claiming benefits for the week ending Aug. 22, the most recent data available, was 29.6 million, an increase of 380,379 from the previous week. During the same week one year ago, 1.6 million Americans claimed benefits.
Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com's senior economic analyst, said Thursday’s jobless claims numbers are more than four times the average of 218,000 in the 11 weeks before the pandemic.
“With the summer months behind, the seasonal aspects of COVID-19, including the need to spend more time inside, pose risks to the economy,” Hamrick said in a statement. “The toll of school closings alone, particularly in university and college communities, is taken on businesses conditioned to welcome back students as customers. Back-to-school, Halloween and holiday shopping will all have a constrained mode this year. As brick-and-mortar retailers, bars and restaurants continue to operate below par, the risk of permanent job loss remains ever-present.”
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Aug. 29 were in California (+22,647), where the service industry experienced layoffs; Texas (+4,521), which saw losses in manufacturing; Louisiana (+3,662); Tennessee (+1,288), which had layoffs in retail, healthcare, accommodation and food services; and Missouri (+1,226), which saw losses in manufacturing, accommodation and food services.
In contrast, the largest decreases were in Florida (-6,057), Georgia (-5,485), Pennsylvania (-2,627), Wisconsin (-1,422) and Michigan (-1,159).
Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the U.S. added 1.4 million jobs in August while the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent, down from 10.2 percent in July, Friday (Sept. 4).
“These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain it,” the BLS said in its report.