The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week stayed unchanged from the week before at just over 880,000, suggesting the labor market recovery has lost some steam.
"That’s more than four times the average early this year of 218,000 in the 11 weeks before the pandemic mushroomed," said Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick, commenting on the figures.
The insured unemployment rate was 9.2 percent for the week ending Aug. 29, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's rate, while the number of Americans continuing to collect unemployment benefits in state programs, after earlier filing an initial claim, rose by 93,000 to 13.385 million during the week ending Aug. 29.
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending Aug. 22 was 29.6 million, an increase of more than 380,000 from the week prior. By comparison, in the comparable week in 2019, there were 1.6 million people claiming unemployment benefits in all programs.
Broken down by states, the biggest increases in initial unemployment claims for the week ending Aug. 29 were in California (+22,647), Texas (+4,521), and Louisiana (+3,662), while the highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending Aug. 22 were found in Hawaii (20.3 percent), Puerto Rico (16.7 percent), and Nevada (16 percent).
"With the summer months behind, the seasonal aspects of COVID-19 including the need to spend more time inside pose risks to the economy," Hamrick said in an emailed statement.
"Back-to-school, Halloween, and holiday shopping will all have a constrained mode this year. As brick-and-mortar retailers, bars, and restaurants continue to operate below par, the risk of permanent job loss remains ever-present," he added.