The number of people applying for unemployment benefits climbed back over 1 million last week as the coronavirus continued to take a devastating toll on the job market.
The labor department announced on Friday that it received 1.1m claims for benefits last week, an increase of 135,000 from the previous week’s revised level and suggesting that layoffs increased last week.
Weekly applications for unemployment benefits had dipped below 1m the previous week for the first time since March, amid signs that people were returning to work following the relaxation of quarantine rules.
Many economists had predicted a further fall this week and the latest figures show how volatile the situation remains. While claims for benefits have been on a steep decline since a peak of close to 7m in April, they remain historically high. Before the pandemic hit the US, the average weekly claims number was about 200,000 and the record high for weekly claims was 695,000, set in 1982.
“The number of individuals claiming benefits remains extraordinarily high – more than twice the peak of the Great Recession – underscoring that the labor market is a long way from being healthy,” Nancy Vanden Houten, economist at Oxford Economics wrote in a note to clients.