787,000 Americans filed for unemployment last week

U.S. & World

In this photo illustration, a person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The number of Americans filing for unemployment slightly dropped last week to 787,000, while the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still felt across industries.

The latest figures released by the Labor Department Thursday show that the number of people filing for jobless benefits declined by 55,000 from the previous week.

The labor agency’s report also said that the number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits fell to nearly 8.4 million, a decrease of over 1 million from the previous week.

Mark Hamrick, a senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com, expressed caution at the drop in claims.

“While we see welcome reported declines in the headline numbers of new claims for unemployment benefits as well as continuing claims reflecting activity administered by states, an additional 500,000 individuals are receiving assistance via the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program,” he said. “It is difficult to know exactly how many individuals are no longer qualifying for jobless aid, and how many are going back to work when looking at these numbers alone.”

Many jobless recipients are now receiving only regular state unemployment payments because a federal weekly supplement of $300 ended in nearly all states. And a $600-a-week federal benefit expired over the summer.

“The economy faces uncertainty on a variety of fronts in the coming weeks and months, including the outcome of the election and, of course, the source of the downturn in the first place, which is the pandemic,” Hamrick said. “Uncertainty is counterproductive when it comes to generating confidence on the part of employers and consumers. But these issues will eventually be resolved one way or the other.”

The weekly count of Americans applying for unemployment benefits has become less reliable as some states have increased their efforts to root out fraudulent claims and process earlier applications that have piled up.

California has resumed reporting its unemployment insurance claims after a two-week pause, which the Labor Department had noted would likely swing data reporting in the state and across the country.

The data reported Thursday accounts for California’s current week totals and revisions to the prior two weeks.

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