840,000 more workers filed for unemployment insurance last week

The layoffs have been at historic highs for months now.

October 8, 2020, 9:05 AM

Another 840,000 Americans sought unemployment insurance last week, according to the latest report Thursday from the U.S. Department of Labor.

This week's claims do not include the most up-to-date data from California, which has temporarily stopped accepting new jobless claims in order to work through a backlog and implement fraud prevention technology, the Labor Department said. Instead, the figure from California will reflect the level reported during the week prior to the pause in new applications.

Still, the initial claims data reflect a labor market still suffering some six months into the coronavirus pandemic. This is the 29th straight week of weekly unemployment claims coming in above the pre-pandemic record set in 1982.

PHOTO: A woman checks her cell phone as she walks past a store closing sign in the Park Slope section of N.Y, Oct. 5, 2020.
A woman checks her cell phone as she walks past a store closing sign in the Park Slope section of N.Y, Oct. 5, 2020.
Erik Pendzich/REX via Shutterstock

While the number of new claims has fallen some since peaking in late March, they have stagnated at unprecedented levels not seen before the COVID-19 crisis. The average for the past four weeks was 857,000 new claims a week, according to the DOL.

Moreover, the total number of people claiming unemployment benefits through all programs was 25.5 million as of the week ending Sept. 19, the DOL also said Thursday. That figure was 1.4 million for the comparable week in 2019.

The states that saw the largest increase in new jobless claims for the week ending Sept. 26 were Maryland, Illinois and New Jersey, according to Thursday's report. Meanwhile, the states with the largest decreases were Texas, Florida and Georgia.

The latest tally of historically high unemployment claims also comes as talks over a second round of stimulus seem to have fallen apart in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump tweeted earlier this week that he called off negotiations on a second round of pandemic aid until after the election, a move that economists say could have devastating consequences on those still out of work due to shutdowns and more.

It has now been more than two months since the extra $600 a week in pandemic aid for the unemployed has expired, yet hundreds of thousands of Americans are still losing their jobs and filing for unemployment insurance each week.

The national unemployment rate was 7.9% in September. This is more than double the unemployment rate in February before the pandemic hit.

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