Long-term unemployed are exhausting state benefits

A Miami-Dade County resident holds a paper unemployment form after waiting inside their car in line at Slade park in Hialeah, Fla., on April 7, 2020.

Some 751,000 Americans filed first-time unemployment benefits last week, the Department of Labor said Thursday in its last report before the presidential election.

That's down 40,000 from the prior week, which was revised slightly higher. These figures reflect seasonal adjustments.

Unemployment claims have been drifting downward in recent months, but they remain far higher than they were prior to the pandemic.

Just under 360,000 people filed initial claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which Congress created as part of its $2 trillion coronavirus relief package to provide assistance to those not typically eligible for benefits, such as gig workers and the self-employed. That's up nearly 15,000 from the week before.

Together, initial applications for benefits stood at about 1.1 million last week without seasonal adjustments.

Continued jobless claims -- which count people who have applied for benefits for at least two weeks in a row -- stood at 7.8 million, down 709,000 the prior week's revised level, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

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