Some 963,000 workers filed jobless claims last week, according to the latest data from the Department of Labor released Thursday.
This is the first time in 21 weeks that weekly jobless claims have dipped below 1 million. The number of new claims has fallen since peaking at nearly 6.9 million in the last week of March, but the streak of pandemic-induced layoffs remains unprecedented.
Some economists worry that the furloughs and temporary layoffs could turn into permanent job losses.
The most recent batch of jobless claims also comes as the extra $600 a week in pandemic unemployment aid has expired, bringing new financial uncertainty for the millions of Americans still out of work.
More than 28 million Americans are still receiving unemployment assistance, the government said Thursday.
"It remains quite stunning that Congress has yet to agree on a fresh round of relief legislation with so many Americans hurting financially," Bankrate's senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said Thursday.
"Even after the president’s controversial and narrowly focused executive orders, the nation’s governors and business interests alike have urged all sides to redouble their efforts to pass meaningful and much needed legislation," he added. "That focus should not ease because of slight improvement in still extremely elevated new jobless claims."