US jobless claims tick up for the second week in a row

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A car passes a hiring banner in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, July 16, 2021. Hiring in California slowed down in June 2021 as employers in the nation’s most populous state tried to coax reluctant workers back into their pre pandemic jobs before the nation’s expanded unemployment benefits expire in September. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits increased for the second week in a row to 351,000, a sign that worsening COVID infections may have slightly increased layoffs.

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The Labor Department said Thursday that jobless claims increased by 16,000 the previous week to 351,000.

Claims have dropped from a record 6.149 million in early April 2020 but are still above the 200,000-250,000 range that is viewed as consistent with a healthy labor market.

But hiring, which has averaged more than 585,000 jobs a month this year, slowed to just 235,000 in August as the delta variant disrupted the recovery.

Overall, 2.8 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits during the week of Sept. 11, up by 131,000 from the week before.

Earlier this month, more than 8 million people lost all their unemployment benefits with the expiration of two federal programs that covered gig workers and people who have been jobless for more than six months. Those emergency programs had been created in March of last year to help ease the economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

An additional 2.7 million people who were receiving regular state unemployment aid lost a $300-a-week federal unemployment supplement last week.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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