Politics & Money

1.3 million Americans file for jobless benefits as virus surges

The total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits dips to 18.1 million

Another 1.3 million people filed for jobless benefits last week amid a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus while the overall number of unemployed Americans dipped.

So-called initial claims fell for the 14th consecutive week since reaching the all-time high of 6.8 million at the end of March when states first started closing businesses and issuing stay-at-home orders to stem the spread of COVID-19. A rush to reopen in June has led to a resurgence of the virus in some of the nation’s biggest states, setting daily records for new infections.

Continuing claims, measuring the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits, dipped by 700,000 during the week ended June 27 to 18.1 million, the Labor Department said on Thursday. In May’s first week, the number reached a record 24.9 million, almost four times the previous high set during the 2008 financial crisis.

“While full employment is a long way off, the labor market is clearly improving.” Wells Fargo economists said in a note to clients. “The resurgence in COVID-19 cases throughout the Sunbelt has, so far, not resulted in higher state unemployment claims.”

The U.S. set another record for new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with more than 59,400 infections. Five states, including Texas and Tennessee, reached new highs for single-day infections.

Texas had the biggest jump in initial claims, with 20,651 people requesting unemployment benefits, according to the Labor Department report. New Jersey was No. 2, with an increase of 18,719.

There have been 3.03 million COVID-19 infections reported in the U.S., more than double the number seen in Brazil, the nation with the second-highest rate. While the U.S. has about 4.2% of the world’s population, it has 25% of the globe’s reported infections and 24% of the fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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