Labor department: 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

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Another 1.2 million Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. That was down from the prior week’s 1.4 million claims.

First-time jobless claims peaked at 6.9 million in the last week of March and then declined for four months. But around mid-July, they reversed directions and rose again.

That’s not a good look for a labor market that desperately needs to recover after millions of workers were displaced by the pandemic. But last week offered hope that claims could head lower once again.

Rising Covid-19 infections across the country have stalled the reopening of the economy and have made it harder for people to return to work. In addition, money from government’s paycheck protection program, which allowed companies to hire back workers, is running out.

Continuing claims for benefits, which count people who have applied for government aid for at least two weeks in a row, came in at 16.1 million on a seasonally adjusted basis, more than 800,000 claims lower than the week before.

And those numbers are only regular jobless benefits and don’t include the pandemic assistance the government rolled out over the past months.

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