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Economy Adds 1.4 Million Jobs in August in Early Sign of Recovery

Hundreds of people line up outside a Kentucky Career Center, hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claims in Frankfort, Ky., June 18, 2020. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

The economy added 1.4 million jobs in August and new jobless claims fell below one million last week as the U.S. labor market hints at a gradual recovery from the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 881,000 initial unemployment claims were filed during the week ending August 29, the Labor Department said Thursday, beating economists’ projections of 950,000 new claims.

Last week marks a decrease of 130,000 new claims from the prior week’s 1.011 million initial claims. Continuing claims also fell dramatically by 1.24 million, sinking to 13.254 million.

During the week ending Aug. 22, the total number of people receiving state unemployment benefits also fell by 1.24 million to about 13.3 million.

The Labor Department also changed its methodology for Thursday’s data release from one that used seasonal adjustments, since those adjustments do not apply as much during the pandemic. The adjustments likely caused the department to overstate initial weekly claims.

Meanwhile, however, those receiving benefits from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program ticked up to more than 759,000 last week, a rise of more than 151,000.

The number of unemployment claims being filed weekly, while decreased from their level during the height of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak in April, is still far higher than the roughly 200,000 claims filed weekly in February, before lockdown and stay at home measures caused businesses to shutter, many permanently.

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