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US workers file 1.5 million jobless claims as coronavirus total tops 45 million

US workers file 1.5 million jobless claims as coronavirus
total tops 45 million 1

Another 1.5 million American workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic kept the job market under pressure, new data show.

The seasonally adjusted figure released Thursday means about 45.7 million people — more than the entire population of Argentina — have tried to join US unemployment rolls since the crisis began about three months ago.

The weekly numbers from the US Department of Labor — one of the most timely indicators of the health of the labor market — fell for the 11th straight week as the nation gradually emerged from lockdowns meant to control the virus. But last week’s total was still roughly twice the Great Recession’s peak of 665,000. Economists were expecting 1.3 million claims.

The number of people filing continued benefits claims also dropped slightly to 20.5 million in the week ending June 6, the feds said. That figure tracking continued unemployment has fallen more slowly than initial claims, suggesting the US economy faces a long road to recovery even after adding 2.5 million jobs in May, experts have said.

The continuing claims figure, which is reported on a one-week lag, “has been slowly drifting lower but has failed to consistently point to shrinking labor market slack,” Bloomberg economist Eliza Winger said in a commentary.

The coronavirus and efforts to stop its spread have led to job losses across a range of industries, from retail and restaurants to health care and financial services. Some of those jobs have come back as many states began to reopen, but the Federal Reserve still expects the unemployment rate to sit at 9.3 percent by the end of this year.

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