New U.S. jobless claims climbed back up above 1 million last week. It’s a reversal for an economy struggling to recover amid a health crisis.
The number of Americans seeking jobless benefits had declined for two straight weeks. But the Labor Department said Thursday initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 135,000 to 1.1 million. That surprised economists, who had forecast a decline. What’s more, the previous week’s levels were revised upward.
Jobless claims peaked at 6.9 million in late March, but the latest number is still historically very high. The economy has only been able to fewer than half of the 22 million jobs lost between February and April.
The latest data comes as coronavirus infections continue to spread across the nation, forcing businesses to shut down or pause plans to restart. Colleges reopening their campuses have become the new hotspot. And the extra $600 a week benefit that enabled unemployed Americans to buy food or pay rent lapsed at the end of July.
The jobless claims tally lent weight to the Federal Reserve’s view that the road to economic recovery would be difficult, and that sent stocks south at the market open Thursday