New U.S. jobless claims rose last week for the first time since March, sparking fears the economy is sputtering again as COVID-19 cases surge across the country and some reopened businesses shut down again.
Some 1.416 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ending July 18, up from 1.307 million the week before and above the 1.3 million expected. It’s the first increase in new claims on a week-over-week basis since March, showing a weakening trend in the labor market.
In comparison, the same week the year earlier had 211,000 new claims.
It was the 18th week running that new claims topped one million. More than 52 million new jobless claims have been filed since the week ended March 20, when the coronavirus lockdown first took effect.
The three states with the highest number of new claims last week included California (292,673), Georgia (120,281) and Florida (105,410).
The latest stats come as Congress is attempting to craft and pass a new aid bill with the current round of enhanced unemployment benefits set to finish at the end of July.
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