US weekly jobless claims hit 884,000, more filings than economists expected

  • New US jobless claims for the week that ended Saturday totaled 884,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That came in above the consensus economist estimate of 850,000.
  • Continuing claims, the aggregate total of people receiving unemployment benefits, totaled 13.3 million for the week that ended August 29. That was also higher than economist forecasts.
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Hundreds of thousands of Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week as coronavirus-driven layoffs continued — and the labor-market damage was more pronounced than expected.

New US weekly jobless claims totaled an unadjusted 884,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That came in above the consensus economist estimate of 850,000 compiled by Bloomberg.

Continuing claims, which represent the aggregate total of people receiving unemployment benefits, came in at 13.3 million for the week that ended August 29, a slight increase from the prior period's revised number.

In under six months, the more than 60 million unemployment claims filed during the coronavirus pandemic have far surpassed the 37 million during the 18-month Great Recession. The latest figure still exceeds the 665,000 filed during the Great Recession's worst week.

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Thursday's report is the first to be released since the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported August payrolls data. The US added 1.37 million jobs last month, slightly exceeding the economist estimate of 1.35 million. The report also showed the unemployment rate falling to 8.4% from 10.2% and similarly beating expectations.

Still-elevated claims data arrives as the Senate reconvenes to negotiate a second stimulus package. Republicans on Tuesday pitched a $500 billion bill that included a $300-per-week expansion to unemployment benefits, half the increase included in March's CARES Act.

While Republicans have repeatedly called for Congress to avoid extraneous spending, Democrats continue to back a $2.2 trillion proposal to further bolster the economy. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer ripped into Republicans' $500 billion legislation on Wednesday, calling the measure "emaciated" for its omission of funds for state and local governments and rental assistance.

"There's a good chance they feel the pressure once they see the Democrats are not going to fold to this emaciated bill, which leaves so much out," he said on CNN. "The pressure will mount on them."

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