BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to 860,000, a historically high figure that reflects economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak.
Before the pandemic hit the economy, the number signing up for jobless aid had never exceeded 700,000 in a week, even during the depths of the 2007-2009 Great Recession. Now they’ve topped 700,000 for 26 straight weeks.
The Labor Department said Thursday that U.S. jobless claims fell by 33,000 form the previous week and that 12.6 million are collecting traditional unemployment benefits, compared with just 1.7 million a year ago.
In Massachusetts, there were 17,857 new unemployment filings. That’s down 800 from the previous week.
Another 11,643 in the state filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, up 219 from the prior week. That program is designed to help independent contractors and “gig economy” workers who are not typically covered by the unemployment system.
Learn more about applying for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts here.
The pandemic has delivered an colossal shock to the economy. Until the pandemic upended the operations of American companies, from factories to family diners, weekly jobless aid applications had never exceeded 700,000 in the U.S.
The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, collapsed at an annual rate of 31.7% from April through June, by far the worst three months on record, as millions of jobs disappeared.
The economy and job market have recovered somewhat from the initial shock. Employers added 10.6 million jobs from May through August, but that’s still less than half the jobs lost in March and April.
The recovery remains fragile, imperiled by continuing COVID-19 infections as schools begin to reopen, and the failure to deliver another economic rescue package in Washington.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)