Jobless claims head higher: 898,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits

898,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (CBS46/AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 787,000, a sign that job losses may have eased slightly but are still running at historically high levels.

With confirmed infections having neared 60,000 in the past week, the highest level since July, many consumers have been unable or reluctant to shop, travel, dine out or congregate in crowds -- a trend that has led some employers to keep cutting jobs. Several states, such as Ohio and Idaho, are reporting a record number of hospitalizations from the virus

The still-high number of people seeking jobless benefits reflects an economy that has recovered only slightly more than half the 22 million jobs that were lost to the pandemic. Many Americans are enduring unemployment with vastly diminished aid since a $600-a-week federal benefit expired this summer.

The latest weekly report on jobless claims coincides with fading prospects for a new federal rescue aid package that economists say is urgently needed for unemployed workers and struggling businesses, states and cities. Congress remains at an impasse.

At the same time, economists say they have grown more skeptical about the government’s figures for unemployment claims, even though there is little doubt that hiring has slowed and many employers are still cutting jobs.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending October 10 were in California (+27,870), Illinois (+11,261), Massachusetts (+10,481), Georgia (+9,292), and Indiana (+7,840)

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