Jobless claims rise for first time in nearly 4 months

The U.S. jobs market recovery may be stalling. After steadily declining, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose last week for the first time in nearly four months.

The Labor Department said Thursday initial jobless claims increased to 1.4 million. That was higher than economists had expected. While that's nearly a fifth of the peak hit in late March, it is still historically very high.

The latest tally comes as coronavirus cases explode across the country, pushing authorities to shut down businesses again or pause reopenings. What's more, some of those workers are being laid off for a second time as the economy battles a recession and faces weak demand.

The U.S. government has been issuing extra unemployment checks of $600 a week but that benefit ends next week. If it's not extended by Congress, it will leave millions of gig workers and self-employed workers without an income since they don't qualify for regular state unemployment insurance.

One bright spot: the number of Americans getting jobless benefits after an initial week of aid - the so-called continued claims - fell by 1.1 million to 16.2 million. That's down from the nearly 25 million in early May.