Unemployment Claims Rise to a Nine-Week High

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Despite signs of an economic recovery, the number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims rose unexpectedly to a nine-week high last week. The number of first-time applications, which generally tracks layoffs, totaled 419,000 in the week-ending July 17, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That was an increase of 51,000 claims from the previous week’s level which was revised up from 360,000 to 368,000 filings. In addition, the most recent week’s applications were well above the 350,000 jobless claims that economists were projecting. The biggest jumps in claims were seen in Michigan (+13,083), Texas (+9,946) and Kentucky (+8,898), while the largest declines were in New York (-11,031), Oklahoma (-4,225) and Tennessee (-3,507). The latest weekly jobless claims nationally are down dramatically from the 2021 high of 904,000 claims filed during the week-ending January 9 and are vastly lower than the historical peak from 2020 when 6.1 million people filed in the week-ending April 4. Prior to the pandemic, the U.S. was consistently logging weekly claims below 220,000. Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 85.7 million Americans have filed initial unemployment insurance claims.