Unemployment claims rise, peaking since mid-August

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American workers continued to hit the unemployment line in droves last week, with 898,000 new claims for unemployment benefits.Economists surveyed by Dow Jones were looking for 830,000.

The total for the week ended October 10 was the highest figure since August 22 and another sign that the labor market continues to struggle to return to its pre-coronavirus pandemic level. That number represented a gain of 53,000 from the revised upward total of 845,000 the previous week.

Despite a higher than expected total, the level of continuing claims continues to decline at a steady pace, declining from 1.165 million to just over 10 million. Continuing claims data runs a week behind the number of leading claims.

Since then, the economy has recovered some 11.4 million jobs, or about half of those that had been sidelined. The unemployment rate has fallen to 7.9%, but is still more than double its pre-pandemic level.

The four-week moving average of continuous claims fell from 682,250 to 11.48 million.

The insured unemployment rate, a simple measure that compares benefit recipients to the total labor force, slipped 0.9 percentage points to 6.8%.

Those first receiving benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program continued to decline, from over 91,000 to 372,981. This program provides compensation to those who would not normally be. eligible for benefits, such as freelancers and independent contractors.

However, program beneficiaries made up more than half of unemployment benefit recipients as of September 26.

Total benefit recipients also fell from 25.5 million to 25.3 million, also as of the week ended September 26.

Claims reporting continues to be affected by California, which has halted processing of its claims as it clears backlogs and seeks to implement technology to prevent fraud. The Labor Department used the figure of 225,000 reported the week before the efforts began.

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