By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Weekly unemployment filings dipped below the 800,000 mark for the first time in months, falling to 787,000 last week, the Department of Labor said Thursday.
This is the lowest number of weekly jobless claims since March, when the pandemic clobbered the U.S. labor market and the tally of initial unemployment filings peaked at some 6.9 million in a single week.
While the drop is a welcome sign for an economy still entrenched in a pandemic-induced financial crisis, the figure still remains well above pre-pandemic levels. It also dwarfs the previous record for initial claims set in 1982.
Some seven months into the COVID-19 crisis, the U.S. economy has clawed back approximately half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. The weekly unemployment claims tally has stagnated around the 800,000 mark for the past few months, showing that the new layoffs are persisting at alarmingly high rates.
The new layoffs also come as hopes for new stimulus or jobless aid remains in limbo as lawmakers struggle to agree.
Meanwhile, the government also said Thursday that more than 23 million people are still claiming some form of unemployment assistance as of the week ending Oct. 3 — more than 20 times what that figure was during the same week in 2019.
States that saw the largest increase in initial unemployment filings for the week ending Oct. 10 were California, Illinois and Massachusetts, the DOL said Thursday. States that saw the largest decrease during that same week were Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia.
The unemployment rate was 7.9% in September. This is more than double what it was in February, before the pandemic hit.
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