News on the jobs front in the U.S. has been good the last couple of weeks.
First, the U.S. Department of Labor released the July jobs report, recognizing that employers added 1.8 million jobs in July (after adding nearly 5 million jobs in June).
While the July report was a bit better than experts had expected, it was fewer than the gains of the previous two months. The unemployment rate dropped from 11.1% to 10.2%.
There was some fear that a surge in COVID-19 cases around the country would slow down the job recovery. According to the Associated Press, it didn’t. The 1.8 million jobs created in July, the AP reported, was the third-best month of job creation on record. But it was much lower than the 2.7 million jobs created in May and the 4.8 million added in June.
The July jobs report satisfied U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, who said it brought “encouraging news.”
“Today’s strong jobs report completes a full week of encouraging economic news, including growth in manufacturing and services and declines in filings for unemployment benefits,” Scalia said. “The July job gains, which are the third largest in history, occurred in a period when some of our largest states were tightening restrictions in response to rising coronavirus cases.
“Even with these gains, far too many Americans remain out of work, and the administration is determined to provide enhanced, targeted support for the unemployed while pursuing the pro-growth policies that led to the exceptional economy Americans experienced prior to the virus.”
Meanwhile, the weekly unemployment numbers are falling.
For the first time in a long time, the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell below 1 million. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 952,000 American workers filed first-time claims in the week ending Aug. 8.
That’s a decrease of 228,000 from the previous week. The total number of workers continuing to claim unemployment benefits fell to 15.4 million last week after peaking at nearly 25 million in early May.
The four-week moving average, according to the DOL, was 1,252,750, a decrease of 86,250 from the previous week’s revised average.
Another 10.7 million people continue to claim unemployment under the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program providing jobless benefits to workers previously not eligible for unemployment.
Only one state – California at 213,482 claims (a drop of more than 8,500 from the previous week – was in triple digits, and 46 states reported drops in first-time claims.
Of the six states that reported gains in first-time claims, Nevada had the most at more than 6,900.
Other interesting numbers:
- Florida had the biggest drop (more than 23,000), falling to 55,106.
- New York continued to fall, with nearly 22,000 fewer claims than the previous week.
- Georgia (62,279) fell nearly 12,000.
- Texas reported 51,476 first-time claims, down more than 11,000.
The department also reported that, in July, the unemployment rate declined by 0.9 percentage point to 10.2 percent, and the number of unemployed workers fell by 1.4 million to 16.3 million. Despite declines over the past three months, the department said, these measures are up by 6.7 percentage points and 10.6 million, respectively, since February.