Approximately 870,000 Americans filed initial claims for unemployment in the week ending Sept. 19, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday, representing a small tick upward for a country still reeling from the coronavirus.
The jump in claims was about 4,000 more than the previous week, though the totals have hovered just under 900,000 throughout September after finally dipping below 1 million in August for the first time since March.
Numbers have greatly improved since peaking at nearly 7 million weekly claims in March, though experts said the figures this week were still higher than expected, CNBC reported.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ending Sept. 12 was slightly down at 8.6 percent, an improvement from the whopping 15 percent it was in April, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“The labor market is not out of the woods yet. It’s still a very challenging and weak labor market, but that said…it’s moving in the right direction,” Kathy Bostjancic, an economist at Oxford Economics, told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, an additional 630,080 Americans filed for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the Department of Labor said.
Though it’s been six months since businesses were plunged into lockdown as COVID-19 gripped the U.S., weekly claims are still about four times higher than they were before lockdown, CNN Business reported.
A $600 supplement to benefits enacted by Congress has since expired, as has an additional $300 meant to last up to six weeks.
“Bottom line, we have a mix of people going back to work because they are now greater incentivized to do so without the extra $600 per week and those that are still challenged in finding a job that matches their skills in this unfortunate pandemic landscape,” Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, told CNBC.