Some 881,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic kept the job market under pressure, the feds said Thursday.
The significant drop in initial jobless claims was likely the result of changes to how the US Department of Labor reports the weekly numbers. The agency started using a new method for making seasonal adjustments to the data — which account for regular fluctuations in hiring — because the coronavirus pandemic threw its usual calculations out of whack.
Nevertheless, last week was just the second since mid-March in which the feds have reported fewer than 1 million new unemployment filings — a level that would have been unthinkable before COVID-19 sparked massive waves of layoffs this spring.
A seasonally adjusted total of 59.2 million jobless claims have poured into state unemployment offices since the pandemic began — a number equivalent to roughly 37 percent of the nation’s workforce.
The latest figures came a day ahead of Friday’s jobs report for August. Economists expect the monthly data to show job growth slowing further as the recovery from the pandemic lost momentum, though the unemployment rate is expected to drop below 10 percent for the first time since March.