More than three months into the coronavirus crisis, millions more Americans are still filing for unemployment benefits each week.
According to the US labour department, 1.48m people filed claims last week, marking a slowdown from the previous week’s figure of 1.54m. Economists had predicted a bigger drop to around 1.3m.
While it marks the twelfth consecutive week in which the rate of new claims has slowed, the number of unemployed workers has remained at nearly 20m.
Continuous claims, or the number of people collecting benefits, fell slightly to 19.5m in the week ending 13 June. That is equivalent to 13.4 per cent of the workforce.
More than 47m Americans have filed for unemployment insurance over the past 14 weeks.
It comes as several states in the south and the west of the country report a surge in new coronavirus cases, threatening to slam the brakes on the reopening of their economies.
As of Thursday morning, there were more than 9.4m and 483,000 Covid-19 deaths around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The US had 2.3m cases and 121,000 deaths.
Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst with Think Markets, said: “The fact jobless claims were comfortably over 1m means this was the fourteenth week in a row the number has surpassed the previously unprecedented milestone.
“It is likely that jobless claims will remain uncomfortably high for a while yet, because of the spike in coronavirus cases across the US.”
Meanwhile, Richard Flynn, UK managing director at Charles Schwab, said: “Markets have welcomed declining initial jobless claims over the past few weeks, but despite these positive numbers there is still underlying stress in the labour market.
“Longer term, the US economy looks to be starting a secular shift from services and consumer-led growth toward more investment-led growth, especially in areas like healthcare, technology and supply-chain manufacturing.
“These growth sectors currently employ nearly 40m people—nearly three times the 13.7m employed by the sectors expected to contract, such as restaurants and retailers.
“This is good news, but if the economy is transitioning from having been nearly 70 per cent driven by consumer spending toward investment-based drivers, the ride is likely to be bumpy.”