Jobless Claims Reflect Employers’ Cautious Stance on Hiring

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It is quickly turning into an economy of have’s and have not’s, particularly when it comes to having a job.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 1.006 million Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits for the week ended Aug. 15, up from a revised 1.106 million claims the week earlier. Economists polled by FactSet had been expecting claims of roughly 1 million.

It was the third week in a row that first-time claims rang in above 1 million and a reflection of employers’ hesitancy to hire — or in many cases re-hire — workers amid the coronavirus pandemic and its unprecedented impact on the economy.

New applications for unemployment benefits have stagnated around 1 million a week recently, significantly lower than the near 7 million peak reached in March at the height of the pandemic and shutdowns, though still well above pre-pandemic levels of about 200,000 claims a week.

Continuing claims, which are the number of people not just filing but staying on unemployment benefits, came in at 14.535 million for the week ended Aug. 8, revised downward from 14.578 the previous week. 

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending August 15 were in New Jersey (+11,580), Florida (+11,190), New York (+9,879), Texas (+9,096), and Tennessee (+3,793), while the largest decreases were in California (-12,155), Nevada (-6,817), Georgia (-4,236), Puerto Rico (-2,864), and Pennsylvania (-1,510).

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