US unemployment claims increase slightly to 870,000

The number of initial unemployment claims in the US increased slightly to 870,000 last week, indicating a bumpy road to the recovery of the coronavirus-ravaged labour market.

In a report on Thursday, the Labour Department said that in the week ending September 19, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose by 4,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised level of 866,000, marking the fifth time in the past 27 weeks that the number was below 1 million, reports Xinhua news agency.

The number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits decreased by 167,000 to 12.58 million in the week ending September 12, the report showed.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs — state and federal combined — for the week ending September 5 also declined 3.7 million to 26 million.

US employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, while the unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 per cent, according to earlier data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

The country still has 11 million unemployed people, out of the 22 million who were laid off in March and April amid the crippling Covid-19 shutdowns.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell recently said the level of unemployment is probably 3 per cent higher than the official data, considering people who are misidentified as employed and the declined labour force participation.

The median projection for the unemployment rate is 7.6 per cent at the end of this year, and 4 per cent by the end of 2023, according to the Fed’s latest economic projections.

This is still above the historic low of 3.5 per cent the country experienced before the Covid-19 pandemic.

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