Millions of Americans Are Still Filing for Unemployment — Is There Worse to Come?

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits exceeded the one-million mark for the 15th consecutive week.

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that jobless claims rose by 1.43 million in the week ending June 27 — a drop of 55,000 from the previous week’s revised level. Economists had forecasted a 1.38 million increase. The report signaled that the United States labor market is still struggling to bounce back after the biggest wave of layoffs in its history.

Today’s data also showed that the number of continuing claims — which represents the number of Americans still collecting unemployment checks and paints a broader picture of joblessness in the country — hit 19.3 million, marking a 59,000 increase over the prior week.

In total, more than 48 million workers applied for unemployment assistance since the coronavirus pandemic swept the U.S. in mid-March. Over the past couple months, many employers facing cash shortfalls resorted to widespread furloughs or layoffs to keep their businesses afloat.

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The report comes follows last month’s employment numbers: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country’s labor force added 4.8 million nonfarm payrolls in June, while the jobless rate declined to 11.1%. (Economists had predicted an addition of 2.9 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 12.4%.) However, that survey was recorded in the middle of the month and doesn’t show the economic impact of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Yesterday, new infections in the U.S. surpassed 50,000 for the first time to reach a single-day record. Some states that were among the first to ease restrictions — including Arizona, Florida and Texas — are now reporting new highs for current coronavirus hospitalizations, leading a number of local governments and many businesses to scale back on their reopening plans.

As other states and localities continue to loosen lockdown orders, many workers are gradually expected to return to their posts, but experts have pointed out that it likely will take years for the economy to recover from the tens of millions of jobs lost during the health crisis.

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