Almost 1.2 million Americans joined the unemployment line last week, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.
New applications for jobless benefits resumed their decline after two weeks of increases, hitting a new pandemic low in a surprise sign of improvement, but economists warn the battered U.S. job market recovery remains painfully slow.
Unemployment remains high relative to this time past year, when SC was averaging 2,548 new weekly claims in July 2019.
The report listed 1,186,000 new claims for the week ending August 1, a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week.
Although measures enacted by Gov. Phil Murphy ordering businesses to close their doors, banning public gatherings and restricting most travel show many signs that they contained COVID-19, the conditions have led to one of the worst economic recessions in American history, and some of its highest unemployment rates - 16.6 percent in New Jersey as of June.
Still, 16 million Americans are continuing to receive unemployment insurance, less than 800,000 down from the week before. "Certainly employment continues to be impacted for many, but this improvement is critical as the $600 federal stimulus has expired for all claimants".
That "underscores the painfully slow recovery in the labor market", Vanden Houten said.
Thursday's numbers beat economists' expectations of 1.4 million new claims filed. The week before, ending on July 25, a total of 28,073 additional residents filed for jobless claims.
Although further widespread shutdowns appear unlikely, with layoffs from the second virus wave falling, "the clear slowdown in the rate of decline over the past few weeks is ominous", Naroff said.