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American initial jobless claims rocket above 1 million again

Another 1.1 million Americans filed...

Posted: Aug 20, 2020 8:11 AM
Updated: Aug 20, 2020 11:00 AM

Another 1.1 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, dashing economists' hopes for a second-straight week with fewer than 1 million claims.

Economists were optimistic that the US jobs market would be on a steady trajectory toward recovery. But last week's claims exceeded forecasts after the previous week's report was the first below 1 million since March, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Without seasonal adjustments, 891,510 people filed regular first-time claims for benefits. On top of that, claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which Congress introduced during the coronavirus pandemic, also rose to 542,797. Adding these numbers together, unadjusted first-time claims stood at 1.4 million last week.

That suggests the jobs recovery slowed down this month. Because the survey for the Bureau of Labor Statistics' August jobs report also wrapped last week, that could dampen economists' forecasts for the jobs report early next month.

But the disappointment from the initial claims number was offset by a larger-than-expected decrease in continued jobless claims, which count people who have filed regular claims for at least two weeks in a row. That number decreased to 14.8 million -- still staggeringly high but also at the lowest level since the first week of April.

Looking at the numbers, 'it's clear that what is keeping people unemployed is not overly generous benefits, but a lack of job openings,' said Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, a think tank, in emailed comments.

All in all, nearly 28.1 million Americans were claiming benefits under the various government programs available in the week ending August 1, only about 200,000 fewer than in the previous week.

After months of shocking economic data, these eyewatering big numbers might not seem as shocking anymore as they really are. But the road to recovery remains long and arduous.

The Federal Reserve said in its July meeting minutes Wednesday that any rebound of the jobs market depends on a reopening and businesses, which in turn depends on the path of the virus and what we do to contain it.

Meanwhile, those filing for benefits are no longer receiving the $600 weekly boost Washington put in place as part of the CARES Act, which expired at the end of July. Instead, benefits have dwindled to their regular amount, which is commonly less than workers made on their salaries.

'Every day that passes without an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits brings greater and greater pain for tens of millions of families,' Stettner said.

Since Congress has been unable to agree a new stimulus deal so far, President Donald Trump signed an executive action to boost jobless benefits by $300 per week by diverting disaster relief money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

So far only seven states -- Iowa, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Utah, Colorado, and Missouri -- have applied for the federal funding to pay out the additional benefits Trump signed off on.

But it might still take a while until this money makes its way to people's wallets. States will have to create a new system to pay out the executive action benefits because the money comes from a different pot of money and is subject to different rules. And that could take weeks.

One way or another, states are struggling to foot the bill for the millions of unemployment claims that they have to pay out and are borrowing from the Treasury to make ends meet. California, New York and Texas continue to be the biggest borrowers.

-- Katie Lobosco contributed to this story.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 289303

Reported Deaths: 3434
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin616511100
Ramsey25903487
Anoka20522218
Dakota20096183
Washington13066109
Stearns1291098
St. Louis7935101
Scott782754
Wright702436
Olmsted626134
Sherburne538640
Clay463856
Carver432213
Blue Earth387112
Rice386033
Kandiyohi373819
Crow Wing334631
Nobles298729
Chisago29358
Otter Tail282818
Benton278642
Winona258128
Mower241323
Douglas237631
Polk234423
Morrison219524
Lyon201911
McLeod195610
Beltrami194615
Becker187512
Goodhue185727
Steele17826
Itasca176124
Isanti174316
Todd171612
Carlton165710
Nicollet150823
Freeborn14465
Mille Lacs141630
Le Sueur138110
Waseca134011
Cass12849
Brown125011
Pine12458
Meeker11308
Roseau10503
Hubbard103822
Martin101920
Wabasha9611
Redwood83718
Dodge8060
Chippewa8057
Watonwan7984
Cottonwood7682
Renville75119
Sibley7414
Wadena7376
Aitkin69826
Rock6829
Pipestone67818
Houston6422
Fillmore6320
Yellow Medicine59311
Pennington5856
Kanabec54912
Murray5493
Swift5366
Faribault5081
Pope4990
Stevens4643
Clearwater4536
Marshall4438
Jackson4361
Unassigned38759
Lake3816
Koochiching3535
Wilkin3465
Lac qui Parle3383
Norman3227
Lincoln3171
Big Stone2841
Mahnomen2704
Grant2516
Red Lake2033
Kittson1917
Traverse1360
Lake of the Woods931
Cook600

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 222064

Reported Deaths: 2319
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33019331
Linn13877164
Scott1085683
Black Hawk10730134
Woodbury10159121
Johnson935536
Dubuque907691
Story669721
Dallas624657
Pottawattamie612469
Sioux364625
Webster353033
Marshall343545
Cerro Gordo342644
Clinton319839
Buena Vista300014
Des Moines281719
Muscatine280968
Warren274011
Plymouth268941
Wapello251171
Jones227913
Jasper212443
Marion201719
Lee197916
Carroll195422
Bremer191312
Henry18037
Crawford173015
Benton166217
Tama152240
Jackson142113
Delaware140221
Washington137414
Dickinson134210
Boone134011
Mahaska125327
Wright12156
Buchanan115010
Clay11314
Hardin113010
Page11134
Hamilton10809
Clayton10715
Harrison106129
Cedar104913
Calhoun10487
Kossuth10236
Floyd102216
Mills10177
Fayette10159
Lyon10058
Poweshiek97913
Butler9746
Winneshiek95412
Iowa92312
Winnebago90223
Hancock8497
Louisa83916
Grundy83811
Chickasaw8354
Sac8297
Cherokee8134
Cass79721
Appanoose77310
Mitchell7704
Allamakee76811
Union7546
Humboldt7525
Shelby75010
Emmet74724
Guthrie73715
Franklin72921
Jefferson6852
Madison6734
Palo Alto6454
Unassigned6320
Keokuk5737
Pocahontas5532
Howard5419
Greene5160
Osceola5131
Clarke4774
Ida46813
Taylor4563
Davis4508
Montgomery44911
Monroe43712
Adair4298
Monona4212
Fremont3543
Van Buren3525
Worth3520
Lucas3216
Decatur3150
Wayne2957
Audubon2942
Ringgold2022
Adams1642
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