Unemployment numbers dip as jobless due to COVID continue

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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped more than expected last week but remained at historic highs as the coronavirus crisis continued.

Last week’s 730,000 initial jobless claims brought the total for the COVID-19 pandemic to about 79.6 million — a number equivalent to nearly half of the American workforce.

The latest filings dropped from last week’s number of 841,000 and beat economists’ expectations for 835,000 filings, according to Thursday’s US Department of Labor report.

But new claims have now remained above the pre-COVID record of 695,000 for 49 consecutive weeks — a sign that the job market is struggling to bounce back as the global pandemic approaches its first anniversary.

The latest data came a week ahead of the feds’ monthly job report for February. It’s expected to show the US economy adding 100,000 jobs this month, up from January’s gain of 49,000, according to Wrightson ICAP.