Initial unemployment claims last week totaled 884,000, even with the number of claims filed the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The Bureau of Labor Statistics put the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate at 9.2% for the week that ended Aug. 29, up nearly a point from the 8.4% August average reported Friday.
Unemployment claims were down from the more than 10 million filed at the height of the lockdown but were still historically high one week shy of the six-month mark.
“Ongoing claims continue to paint a dire picture of how far the jobs recovery has to go,” Century Foundation unemployment expert Andrew Stettner said in an email to International Business Times. “With just 1.4 million jobs added to the economy in the month of August, it will take months if not years for the economy to return to a place where continued claims sink back to pre-pandemic levels of less than 2 million per week.”
Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com, noted initial claims are nearly four times the average of 218,000 in the 11 weeks before the pandemic began taking its toll.
“The recent August employment report highlighted that jobs are being restored at a slowing pace with a deficit of more than 12 million positions still to recover compared to February,” Hamrick told IBT.
President Trump on Monday touted the recovery during a news conference.
“The U.S. economy added 1.4 million jobs last month, and we’ve have added a record-setting 10.6 million jobs since May. Ten-point-six million jobs since May. That’s a record that is not even close. Second place is a long ways away,” Trump said.
Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, noted seasonally unadjusted claims last week were up more than 1.6 million, “not a good place to be heading into fall.”
The number of people who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and collecting unemployment benefits was pegged at 13.3 million for the week that ended Aug. 29 while the total number of Americans on unemployment rolls totaled 29 million for the week that ended Aug. 22. For the comparable week in 2019, fewer than 1.6 million were collecting jobless benefits.
For the week that ended Aug. 22, 48 states reported nearly 14.6 million people claimed pandemic unemployment assistance while 1.4 million claimed pandemic emergency unemployment compensation benefits. The highest unemployment rates were recorded in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Nevada, New York and California.
For the week that ended Aug. 29, the largest increases in initial claims were recorded in California, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Missouri while the largest decreases were reported in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.