Nearly 1.2 million people filed new unemployment claims last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, marking the 20th straight week with more than 1 million initial applications for jobless benefits. Economists had expected a slightly worse employment picture, with 1.4 million new claims. About 16 million Americans continued to receive unemployment payments, down less than 800,000 from the previous week. A total of 54 million Americans have claimed unemployment since the pandemic started. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected the Labor Department to report Friday that the U.S. economy added 1.7 million jobs in July, down from a gain of 4.8 million in June. The forecasts range widely, from 280,000 to 4 million, because economists aren’t sure how many layoffs have resulted from spiking COVID-19 cases.
[NBC News, MarketWatch]