Last week, just over 1 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance, an indication that the coronavirus epidemic continues to threaten jobs even as the housing market, car sales and other sectors of the economy bounced back from a springtime collapse. The Labor Department announced on Thursday that last week’s number of jobless help claimants fell by 98,000 from 1.1 million a week earlier.
Every week, the number of initial claims has reached 1 million but one since late March, an unparalleled run. They had never reached 700,000 in a week before the coronavirus pandemic. About 14.5 million are receiving conventional unemployment compensation — up from 1.7 million a year ago — an indication that many American families rely on jobless checks to keep them afloat. The unemployed got an additional $600 a week in federal funds until July 31, in addition to normal state unemployment insurance, part of an unprecedented lifeline extended to support them navigate the crisis. The lack of that money puts the pressure on a lot of families.
The pandemic had devastating implications for the American economy. Companies closed and Americans stayed home to prevent infection. Economic activity drops. Gross domestic product — the broadest indicator of economic performance — shrank at an annual rate of 31.7 percent from April to June, by far the worst reported quarter. In March and April, employers cut out more than 22 million workers.