New Unemployment Claims Top 1 Million for 13 Consecutive Weeks

People line up outside Kentucky Career Center before it opens to find assistance with their unemployment claims in Frankfort, Ky., June 18, 2020. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

New jobless claims topped 1 million for the 13th-straight week, the Labor Department revealed Thursday, as 1.5 million additional Americans requested unemployment benefits in the second week of June.

The Labor Department also said that while new claims fell by 58,000 from the last release, 20.5 million people continued to receive benefits — a relatively flat number over the last few weeks. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig-economy workers ineligible for standard benefits, also added 760,526 new claims.

As states have commenced reopening, unemployment remains high in New York and California, with rates of 18.0 and 16.2, respectively. States that saw the biggest drop in initial claims included Florida (-95,546), Texas (-17,001), and Georgia (-13,909).

Under the current coronavirus-relief framework, the Trump administration is paying $600 in additional monthly unemployment benefits to supplement state payouts, a measure that is set to end next month. While Congress is debating whether to extend the aid, some Republicans and officials in the administration have expressed disapproval at the measure, saying it incentivizes workers to stay home.

“I know that pretty much no one is happy with the $600 plus up,” Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said earlier this month.

The Trump administration has still expressed optimism at the economic outlook, pointing to a record 2.5 million jobs that were added in May — defying expectations — as well as a record surge in retail numbers, with sales increasing 17.7 percent from April to May, more than double the previous record.

But the president’s polling numbers have dipped

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