Nearly 3.4M workers remain on jobless benefits despite drop in weekly claims

Nearly 3.4 million Americans are still on traditional state unemployment benefits even as the number of Americans seeking new claims ticked modestly down last week after a surprise uptick earlier this month, the feds said Thursday.

Continuing claims fell by 144,000 from over 3.5 million the week before, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department. That figure stood at nearly 19 million at the same time last year, in the thick of the pandemic.

Continuing claims have fallen significantly since peaks seen in 2020, but the figure remains about twice as high as pre-pandemic levels.

New weekly filings for jobless claims, seen as a proxy for layoffs, reached 411,000 last week, down modestly from last week’s revised level of 418,000, the feds said.

Weekly new claims fell steadily throughout May and June, even touching as low as 375,000 before surprising economists and shooting back up above 400,000. The country was averaging just over 200,000 new claims per week in 2019.

Jobless claims for June 20, 2020 through June 19, 2021.
Department of Labor

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