Weekly Jobless Claims Hold Steady - Is that Good Or Bad?

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Is 884,000 first-time jobless claims a good thing or a bad thing?

That will be up for debate among economists and market-watchers following the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims report, which showed that first-time jobless claims held steady below 1 million for a second straight week last week.

The Labor Department said that 884,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits for the week ended Sept. 5, unchanged from the 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.

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.

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.

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