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Jobless Claims Hold Below 1 Million

First-time jobless claims hold below 1 million for a second week as the U.S. labor market continues to show tentative signs of stabilization.

First-time jobless claims held below 1 million for a second straight week as the U.S. labor market decimated from the coronavirus pandemic continues to show tentative signs of stabilization.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 884,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits for the week ended Sept. 5, unchanged from the previous week and close to economists' forecasts of 835,000.

Continuing claims, which are the number of people not just filing but staying on unemployment benefits, came in at 13.385 million for the week ended Aug. 29, revised upward from 13.292 million the previous week, the Labor Department said.

The number of Americans filing specifically for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits came in at 14.591 million, while the number claiming Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits was 1.422 million.

From the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, economists and market-watchers have been keeping an eagle eye on weekly jobless claims figures for signs of how the unprecedented economic shutdown and subsequent reopening have impacted the labor market.

At the same time, the Labor Department’s weekly tally of jobless claims haven’t been reported on a seasonally adjusted basis - until now.

Thursday’s report marks the second week that the Department of Labor has counted new and continuing jobless claims under an updated system that now smooths out the bigger week-to-week gyrations in the numbers.

No matter how it is tallied, the number of jobs lost in the pandemic and the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits has been staggering. While companies have re-hired furloughed workers and the number of people filing for benefits has dropped from a near 7 million peak in March, millions of Americans are still out of work. 

U.S. companies did add to their ranks in August, pushing the unemployment rate below 10% for the first time since the pandemic began, though the economy is still out some 11.4 million jobs since March. The unemployment rate fell to 8.4% last month.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Aug. 29 were in California (+22,647), Texas (+4,521), Louisiana (+3,662), Tennessee (+1,288), and Missouri (+1,226), while the largest decreases were in Florida (-6,057), Georgia (-5,485), Pennsylvania (-2,627), Wisconsin (-1,422), and Michigan (-1,159).