By Noreen Burke
Investing.com – The number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits crept down to 1.48 million in the week ending June 20, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday, underlining the view that the labor market faces a prolonged and difficult recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number was higher than forecasts for 1.30 million and was down only slightly from 1.54 million in the prior week.
Claims have pulled back from a record 6.86 million in late March, but the pace of decline has slowed. Companies are hiring, but others are cutting jobs at nearly the same pace. The economy slipped into recession in February.
A surge in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the U.S., linked to the reopening of businesses, is also clouding the economic outlook.
“There were some businesses that tried to maintain their workforce, waiting to see what would happen as businesses reopened,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Even as the economy is picking up they are not seeing a lot of demand and are deciding that they don’t need that many workers.”
Continuing claims, which show the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid, came in slightly below expectations at 19.52 million in the week ended June 13, down just slightly from 20.28 million a week earlier, but the first time they have been below 20 million since April.
Continuing claims figures are reported with a one-week delay but are considered offering a better view of the labor market. Continuing claims initially eased from a record high of 24.91 million in early May but appear to have stalled.
–Reuters contributed to this report
U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Fall To 1.48M, Continuing Claims Edge Below 20M
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