More than 2.9 million Americans are still on traditional state unemployment benefits as the number of people seeking weekly new claims appear to have settled at a level higher than previously hoped, the feds said Thursday.
Continuing claims fell by 366,000 from just over 3.26 million the week before, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department. That figure stood at almost 16 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.
Initial filings for unemployment benefits, seen as a proxy for layoffs, reached 385,000 last week, down 14,000 from the prior week’s revised level of 399,000, the feds added.
Weekly new jobless claims exactly matched expectations from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.
Weekly new claims have fallen substantially from the 2020 peak of about 6.1 million new claims in a single week, but economists have expressed concern that in recent weeks, they appear to have settled at an elevated level.
The country was averaging just over 200,000 new claims per week in 2019.
The Labor Department’s report comes before Friday’s release of the highly anticipated July jobs report.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect the report will show the country added 845,000 jobs last month, maintaining the level of growth show in the prior month.
But on Wednesday, payroll processing firm ADP released their monthly report, which showed that the private sector hired just 330,000 workers in July, far below the 653,000 new jobs expected.
Friday’s report, which comes amid mounting concerns over the Delta variant of the coronavirus, will shed new light on the pace of the recovery in the labor market.
The round of new data also comes a week after the feds reported that the US GDP surged 6.5 percent in the second quarter of the year, falling short of expectations as inflation and supply shortages held growth back.