Around 751,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the number of workers joining the country’s unemployment list continued to decline, the government said Thursday.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers filed a seasonally adjusted 65.9 million initial unemployment claims in the last eight months of the coronavirus pandemic – a number almost as large as the French population.
The number of new registrations has decreased for two consecutive weeks, but remains well above the pre-pandemic record of 695,000, although they have fallen significantly from their high of 6.8 million at the end of March. Economists expected 780,000 claims last week, according to Wrightson ICAP.
“The labor market showed signs of improvement in October versus September, but progress has been slow and the economy is facing new headwinds from the rising number of new coronavirus cases,” said Chris Rupkey, finance economist at MUFG Union Bank.
Sustained entitlements, which measure persistent unemployment with a one-week delay, saw their fifth straight decline to 7.7 million in the week ended October 17. However, experts believe the decline is likely due to the fact that unemployed people tend to make their usual 26-week benefits available.
This has been accompanied by an increase in the number of people eligible for extended benefits under the pandemic emergency unemployment compensation program. In the week ending October 10, there were approximately 3.6 million people on the program, an increase of around 387,000 from the previous week, according to government figures.