Another 375,000 people filed new unemployment claims last week

New weekly jobless claims fell further last week as the labor market recovery continued to advance despite the continuing threat of the Delta variant.

The Labor Department released its weekly jobless claims report Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Here are the top metrics of impression, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended August 7: 375,000 against 375,000 expected and 387,000 revised during the previous week

  • Continuous requests, week ended July 31: 2.866 million against 2.900 million expected and 2.980 million revised the previous week

New weekly jobless claims fell for a third consecutive period and fell below the psychologically significant level of 400,000. Continuing claims also fell to a new pandemic-era low of below 3 million, returning to levels before the virus.

Economists expected an improvement in the number of people returning to the workforce as more states introduce improved federal unemployment benefits. By mid-summer, around two dozen states had decided to end those benefits before their official September nationwide expiration date, in a measure seen as pushing workers back to work.

As of July 24, just over 12 million people were still claiming unemployment benefits in all programs. This represented a drop of over 900,000 from the previous week, with the drop accelerating significantly from the drop of around 200,000 the week before. According to the latest data, more than 8.5 million people are claiming unemployment assistance in the event of a pandemic and emergency compensation in the event of a pandemic.

Other labor market data have also recently highlighted a more robust recovery in activity. Last Friday’s employment report from the Ministry of Labor showed that a much better-than-expected payroll of 943,000 was created in July, marking a consecutive month with job gains north of 900,000. Unemployment rates, labor force participation rates and the length of the working week have also improved.

Additional reports highlighted the magnitude of demand for workers in the recovering economy. The Labor Ministry’s job vacancies and workforce turnover report showed a record more than 10 million vacancies last month. And in a separate report, the National Federation of Independent Businesses said a record share of small businesses also reported difficulties filling vacancies opened in July.

The recent spread of the Delta variant across the United States has called into question the pace of further progress in the labor market, adding another obstacle on the road to full employment. Airlines and travel agencies have been among the most vocal on the impact of the variant, with Southwest Airlines on Wednesday highlighting a deceleration in bookings and an increase in cancellations as infections in hot spots increase.

“As revealed last week, incoming data at the start of the third quarter points to further strong GDP growth and a recovery in the labor market,” wrote Sam Bullard, senior economist at Wells Fargo, in a note. “That said, the Delta variant which has resulted in an increase in hospitalizations and an increase in deaths attributed to COVID needs to be monitored and poses a downside risk to the growth and outlook of the labor market – particularly if one foresees to bring back office workers and re-open schools this fall are delayed. ”

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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