The number of Americans filing for unemployment unexpectedly spiked to 419,000 last week

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The number of Americans filing for unemployment unexpectedly spiked to 419,000 last week
Hundreds of people line up outside a Kentucky Career Center hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claim in Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S. June 18, 2020. Bryan Woolston/Reuters

  • Initial jobless claims for last week came in at 419,000, far above expectations for 350,000.
  • Continuing claims, or the total number of Americans receiving benefits, were 3.236 million.
  • Most labor-market data from the past couple of months suggests a quickly recovering economy.

Initial jobless claims for the week that ended Saturday came in at 419,000, far higher than the consensus expectation for 350,000, according to Bloomberg.

The unexpected spike in the number of Americans newly out of work from last week's revised figure of 368,000 is another in a series of blips in a noisy but gradually declining measure.

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While the number of Americans newly filing for unemployment benefits tends to bounce around from week to week, it's been on a general downward trend after spiking to record-shattering numbers amid the early days of the coronavirus pandemic last spring. The overall trend matches other data suggesting a steadily recovering labor market.

Continuing claims, which measure the number of Americans actually receiving benefits, stood at 3.236 million, down from last week's revised figure of 3.265 million but above the consensus estimate for 3.1 million.

Several states have begun to unwind the federal supplemental unemployment-insurance programs passed over the past year to address the economic fallout from the pandemic, with governors arguing that the benefits are discouraging unemployed workers from seeking new jobs.

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Those programs, which include an extra $300 a week for anyone receiving unemployment, along with benefits for workers who have exhausted their normal state unemployment benefits and gig-economy workers ineligible for traditional unemployment, are scheduled to end nationwide in September.

Jobless claims are far below their pandemic-era highs, during which millions of Americans applied for benefits each week as mass shutdowns, layoffs, and furloughs swept across the country. Still, they remain above their precrisis trend of about 200,000 a week, suggesting there's still plenty of room for the labor market to improve.

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