Initial jobless claims unexpectedly climb off pandemic-era lows

The number of Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits last week unexpectedly rose from pandemic-era lows to their highest level since early June. 

The Labor Department said Thursday that 419,000 Americans filed for initial jobless benefits in the week ending July 17, above last week’s upwardly revised 368,000 filings. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting 350,000 filings. 

“Recovery is never a perfect straight line,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate. 

Continuing claims, meanwhile, fell to 3.236 million filings in the week ending July 10, but were above the 3.1 million consensus. Continuing claims were at their lowest level since March 21, 2020. 

Continuing claims have been declining in recent weeks as about half of states ended or announced plans to end the $300 per week in supplemental unemployment before they expire in September.

Despite the job market’s improving backdrop, almost 12.6 million Americans continue to receive some form of unemployment assistance. 

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“That total should decline sharply in a couple of months as the federal pandemic programs expire,” Hamrick said. 

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