The Labor Department reported today, Thursday, August 13, that first-time unemployment claims for the week ending in August 8 were under one million for the first time since March. Last week’s claim sits at 936 thousand, compared to the week of March 14—the last week under one million—at 282 thousand. Last week’s claims were down 228 thousand from the previous week’s claims, having sat at 1.191 million claims, according to the Labor Department news release. The New York Times reported that an additional 489 thousand applied for claims under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
According to the New York Times, unemployment claims have fallen drastically since the beginning months of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which nearly 6.9 million Americans applied in just late March. In comparison to past recessions in the United States, the New York Times wrote that the worst unemployment week on record was from 1882, landing in at 695 thousand claims.
In total, 28 million people are receiving unemployment benefits as of July 25, which is three million down from the previous week, reported the Washington Post. With the following week’s drop in unemployment claims, the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits should drop accordingly. CNBC reported that the states that saw the largest decrease in unemployment were Florida (-23,180), New York (-21,905), and Texas (-11,233).
According to the Times, unlike many of the temporary layoffs and furloughs that came at the beginning of the pandemic, now most new job losses are likely to be permanent. They report that the Labor Department brought back 1.8 million jobs in July, though much fewer than June’s number of 4.8 million after businesses faced closure a second time. They continued that only fewer than 22 million of the jobs lost in March and April have been restored. This ultimately may affect future unemployment numbers going forward.
As of July 31, the provision of an additional $600 given to unemployment insurance recipients on top of their usual compensation has expired, according to CNBC. This decision has started controversy within the nation. In response, congressional leaders are currently discussing an extension, as the president has issued an executive order that would provide an additional $400.