Jobless claims

In this file photo, airline industry workers hold signs during a protest in Federal Plaza in Chicago, Illinois, on September 9, 2020. Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits failed to decline as expected last week. (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits failed to decline as expected last week, a sign extensive job losses are persisting as the nation continues to struggle to control the coronavirus.

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs were unchanged at 884,000 in the week ended Sept. 5, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Due to a change in the methodology for seasonal adjustment earlier this month, the figure is directly comparable only to the prior week. Continuing claims – the total number of Americans claiming ongoing unemployment assistance in those programs – rose 93,000 to 13.4 million in the week ended Aug. 29.

The median estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 850,000 initial claims in the latest week and 12.9 million continuing claims.

The unexpectedly high levels of claims underscore the uneven nature of the labor market's recovery. Many businesses are hiring or bringing back workers, yet millions remain unemployed and others are on the chopping block as more companies announce job cuts and small-business aid runs dry.

With lawmakers at a stalemate over additional jobless benefits and President Donald Trump's stopgap aid ending, unemployed Americans face even tougher challenges than before.

Before seasonal adjustments, initial claims in state programs rose by about 20,000 to 857,000, led by increases in California and Texas.

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