Another 1.1 million unemployed U.S. workers filed for government jobless compensation last week, the government's Labor Department reported Thursday, one week after the weekly total had fallen below a million claims.
Last week's rise in claims suggests that employers are laying off more workers and that the labor market is still showing signs of weakness in states with recent spikes in coronavirus infections.
For 20 straight weeks, more than a million jobless workers had sought government assistance as the virus unrelentingly attacks communities large and small throughout the country, forcing employers to shut down their businesses or curtail their operations and lay off workers.
Last week's claims total increased by 180,000 from the week before.
Unemployment benefit claims have fallen sharply since late March in the earliest days of the pandemic's assault on the U.S. economy, when 6.9 million Americans sought relief in a single week. But before then, the worst recorded single week was in 1982, when 695,000 sought benefits, and every week during the coronavirus pandemic has been well above that four-decade-old figure.
Even with last week's improved jobless claims number, the country's economic recovery has slowed, with the government reporting on August 7 that 1.8 million new jobs were added in July, down sharply from the 4.8 million new jobs reported in June.
The Commerce Department says the American economy plummeted 9.5% between April and June, the biggest quarterly plunge in records dating back seven decades.
The three-month drop, combined with a 4.8% dip from January through March, officially dipped the U.S. economy into a recession as it struggles to regain its footing. The unchecked pandemic, with a surging number of new cases, has left more than 173,000 Americans dead and infected nearly 5.5 million.
It is estimated that more than 30 million U.S. workers remain unemployed, although not all are collecting assistance. Since March, 56 million people have collected unemployment insurance at one time or another.