Weekly jobless claims increase as 898,000 Americans file for unemployment

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FILE – In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, passers-by walk past a business storefront with store closing and sale signs in Dedham, Mass. U.S. employers advertised for slightly fewer jobs in August while their hiring ticked up modestly. The Labor Department said Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, that the number of U.S. job postings on the last day of August dipped to 6.49 million, down from 6.70 million July. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose last week to 898,000 as economic recovery continues to stall seven months into the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest figures released by the Labor Department Thursday show that the number of people filing for jobless benefits grew by 53,000 from the previous week.

The labor agency’s report also said that the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits dropped 1.2 million to 10 million.

Mark Hamrick, a senior economic analyst with Bankrate.com, said that a number of key states reported increases in jobless claims, including Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Georgia. Hamrick noted that California has paused its reporting.

The weekly count of Americans applying for unemployment benefits has become less reliable as some states have increased their efforts to root out fraudulent claims and process earlier applications that have piled up.

The Labor Department specifically noted the impact of the state of California’s two-week pause on its processing of unemployment claims.

The federal agency said the pause “will likely result in significant week to week swings in initial claims in California and the nation.”

“There is risk of stagnation in the coming months as layoffs mount, and more businesses struggle or fail,” Hamrick said. “Federal Reserve officials don’t expect to see so-called full employment again until 2023. Bankrate’s survey of economists indicated that the unemployment rate will remain elevated through the first half of next year.”

Hamrick noted that employment at restaurants and bars is more than 2 million jobs short of the pre-pandemic period. But he said there’s “a home renovation and sales boom, assisted by record low mortgage interest rates.”

The highest unemployment reported this year so far was in April, at 14.7%. The current unemployment rate sits at 7.9%.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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