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Number of Americans applying for unemployment ticked up last week

745,000 Americans filed for jobless benefits
745,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week 08:51

The number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims ticked up last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, indicating that layoffs remain high despite signs of an improving economy.

Roughly 745,000 people filed for jobless aid in the week ended February 27, up 9,000 from the previous week. About 437,000 others filed claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program for self-employed and gig workers.

While the pace of layoffs has slowed since the start of the year, they remain high by historical standards. Before the virus erupted in the U.S. a year ago, weekly applications for unemployment benefits hovered around 200,000 and had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession of 2008-09.

Nearly 10 million fewer Americans are employed today than a year ago, according to Labor Department figures.

"Clearly, it will take many months before job creation can accelerate to the point where all those currently unemployed can return to work. Unemployment benefits claims will remain extremely elevated until then," Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, said in a note.

Some unemployed Californians say they are fraud victims but bank won't unfreeze their accounts 05:39

As of mid-February (the most recent data available), over 18 million people were receiving some sort of jobless aid.

Still, the job market is showing signs of improvement, including a rise in listings on career sites. Job postings at Indeed are 5.7% higher than they were in February 2020, said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist with the job search site. 

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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