BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Just over 1 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that the coronavirus outbreak continues to threaten jobs even as the housing market, auto sales and other segments of the economy rebound from a springtime collapse. The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of people seeking jobless aid last week dropped by 98,000 from 1.1 million the week before.
In Massachusetts, claims for unemployment benefits remained steady, according to the latest federal numbers. Just over 17,000 people filed new claims for unemployment last week, roughly the same number as the previous week. There was also little change when it comes to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, as 12,000 people not covered by the traditional unemployment system applied for benefits.
The Massachusetts unemployment rate for July was 16.1%, the highest in the country.
The number of initial claims nationwide has exceeded 1 million most weeks since late March. Before the coronavirus pandemic, they never topped 700,000 in a week. More than 14.5 million are collecting traditional jobless benefits — up from 1.7 million a year ago — a sign that many American families are depending on unemployment checks to keep them afloat.
“Six months into the pandemic, the leading issue is not new layoffs but rather the exceedingly slow pace by which workers are being rehired,” Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a leading authority on unemployment, said in a note reported by CBS News.
Learn more about applying for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts here.