963,000 people filed for temporary unemployment benefits last week, according to new data from the Labor Department—it’s the first time since March that claims have dipped below one million, but the labor market still has a long way to go before it fully recovers.


US jobless claims drop below 1 million for the first time since March

  • Thursday’s numbers are well below the 1.1 million new claims economists were expecting and the prior week’s 1.2 million claims.
  • New claims have remained high every week since the middle of March—peaking at 6.9 million claims during a single week that month—as the pandemic forced businesses closures and layoffs on an unprecedented scale.
  • The pace of new claims has slowed considerably, but this week’s numbers are still much higher than the previous record (695,000 new claims during one week in 1982).
  • The United States added 1.8 million jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2% from 11.1% in June after peaking at 14.7% in April.
  • The New York Times notes that recent job losses, unlike those that characterized the beginning of the coronavirus crisis in the spring, are more likely to be permanent.

What economists say

“We’re just running a lot of layoffs week after week even as a lot of people are coming back to work,” LinkedIn economist Guy Berger told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s still a lot of labor market distress out there that’s emerging.”


28 million. That’s how many people claimed some form of unemployment benefit from the government last week, down from about 31 million the week before.