(Bloomberg) -- Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits fell last week to a fresh pandemic low amid a recovering economy.
Initial unemployment claims in regular state programs fell 14,000 to 340,000 in the week ended Aug. 28, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a slight decrease to 345,000 new applications.
Continuing claims for state benefits fell to 2.7 million in the week ended Aug. 21.
Initial claims have been drifting lower for months, thanks to the broader reopening of the economy and elevated demand for workers. Even so, claims remain elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels, and the fast-spreading delta variant has injected uncertainty into the economic outlook, posing a risk of future layoffs.
The recent surge in infections has already begun to impact consumer behavior. High-frequency data point to softening demand for services such as air travel, restaurant dining and hotel occupancy. Looking ahead, the fall season may bring labor disruptions as children across the country return to in-person schooling, especially in places with lower vaccination rates.
The claims data come just before the monthly jobs report out Friday, which is forecast to show 725,000 jobs were added in August.
Unadjusted initial claims in California, Illinois and Virginia saw the biggest decreases last week. Missouri and Ohio posted the largest increases.
Roughly half of states ended federal pandemic unemployment programs -- including an extra $300 weekly payment -- before their official Sept. 6 expiration date in hopes of spurring job creation. The White House has said it will not extend jobless aid further, but states can use pandemic relief funds to provide additional assistance to unemployed workers.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Add Chart to Comment
We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:
- Enrich the conversation
- Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
- Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
- Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
- NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
- Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
- Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
- Only English comments will be allowed.
Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.