The number of people initiating claims for unemployment insurance decreased for the third week in a row but remained at a level higher than its pandemic-era low, as the job market continued to recover, slowly.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits declined to 375,000 in the week through Aug. 7, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to seasonally adjusted data released Thursday by the Labor Department. The drop was about what economists expected, according to a consensus estimate of 375,390 cited by Moody’s Analytics.
Claims have hit the pandemic-era low of 368,000 twice this summer, but have struggled to break free of that level, hovering around the 400,000 mark since mid-May. The lack of progress follows a spring where the weekly volume of claims dropped by nearly half in a matter of weeks. Now stuck at twice the pre-pandemic level of about 210,000, claims had been at four times or higher for a year prior to this spring.
The job market recovery has been somewhat uneven, with businesses unable to fill a record number of job openings despite a need to hire in the face of eager consumers ready to spend. The roadblocks could be clearing some, after the U.S. added nearly a million people to payrolls in July, the most in almost a year. But factors like an increase in virus cases could slow economic activity, economists said, hampering the recovery just as hiring heats up.
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