The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell slightly last week, but layoffs remained historically high as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the labor market.
Some 1 million people applied for state unemployment benefits in the week ended August 22, the Labor Department said Thursday. That figure, which accounts for seasonal adjustments, showed a drop of about 100,000 from the week before.
However, the number of people applying for self-employed help rose. About 608,000 applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a special federal program for the self-employed and gig workers.
As of mid-August, some 27 million people were receiving jobless aid of any sort. That's a drop of about a million from the week before. Even so, the claims indicate "a highly stressed labor market," said Jamie Cox, Managing Partner for Harris Financial Group.
"Even a 1 million person drop in the total number unemployed isn't enough — there is a lot of work to be done," he added.
Even though some workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic are finding new work, millions remain jobless, indicating that may are struggling to get rehired, experts said.
"Six months into the pandemic, the leading issue is not new layoffs but rather the exceedingly slow pace by which workers are being rehired," Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a leading authority on unemployment, said in a note.