Another 1.3 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment insurance last week, the Department of Labor said Thursday.
While the new jobless claims have leveled off some since peaking at 6.9 million in late March, they remain at historically high levels -- and have been in the millions each week for over three months. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the record for weekly unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.
The latest data from the DOL indicates that some business are reopening as pandemic restrictions ease, but some 18 million U.S. workers are still receiving unemployment insurance. Since the pandemic began, more than 45 million Americans have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment insurance at some point.
"New claims have dropped for 14 straight weeks despite the uneven nature of COVID-19 restrictions and the outbreak itself," Bankrate's senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said in a commentary Thursday on the latest jobless claim figures. "Even so, with more bankruptcies and job cuts announced in the retail sector, for example, the economy remains at significant risk in the weeks and months ahead."
The official unemployment rate in June was 11.1%, the Labor Department said last week. Economists, however, cautioned that this figure might not encompass business re-closings that have been happening in recent weeks amid concerning rises in COVID-19 cases in many states.
"As the COVID-19 outbreak has recently intensified in some states, hopes for an accelerated, sustained and successful re-opening of the economy have hit roadblocks," Hamrick added. "This raises concern about the economy’s rebound."
Some of the hardest-hit industries by the COVID-19 financial crisis include hospitality, retail, food and beverage service and the travel sector.