The number of initial jobless claims in the US last week remained above the 1 million mark for a second straight week, painting a gloomy outlook for the recovery of a labour market ravaged by the Covid-19 crisis.
In the week ending August 22, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits decreased by 98,000 to reach 1 million, Xinhua news agency quoted the Labour Department as saying in a report on Thursday.
It's the 22nd time in the past 23 weeks that the figure was above 1 million.
As Covid-19 shutdowns affected the workforce, initial jobless claims spiked by 3 million to reach a record 3.3 million in the week ending March 21, and then doubled to reach a record 6.87 million in the week ending March 28. After that, the number had been declining for 15 weeks consecutively, though they were still at historically high levels, before the trend was reversed in the week ending July 18 amid a resurgence in coronavirus cases.
The number then fell to 963,000 in the week ending August 8, the first time it has dipped below 1 million since mid-March, but the trend was reversed in the week ending August 15, when the number rose back to above the 1 million mark.
The Labour Department's jobless claims report also showed the number of people continuing to collect state unemployment benefits declined by 223,000 to 14.5 million in the week ending August 15.
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending August 8 also declined to 27 million.
Meanwhile, the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits expired at the end of July, but Democratic lawmakers and President Donald Trump's administration remain deadlocked over the next Covid-19 relief package, with both sides blaming each other for making little progress.