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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell for a third straight time last week.
It’s the latest sign that employers are laying off fewer people as they struggle to fill a record number of open jobs and meet a surge in consumer demand.
Thursday's report from the U.S. Department of Labor showed jobless claims fell to 375,000 from 387,000 the previous week.
The number of applications has fallen steadily since topping 900,000 in early January as the economy has increasingly reopened in the aftermath of the pandemic recession.
In Iowa, the state recorded its highest number of new unemployment claims in the week ending Aug. 7 in almost two months.
New claims jumped from 1,884 to 2,354, while continuing claims slid, though, from 16,787 to 16,708.
Linn and Johnson counties both saw increases in new claims. The 205 new claims in Linn County were the most since May. Johnson County's 88 new claims were the most since June.
Manufacturing was the largest statewide source of new claims with 492, followed by self-employed and independent contractors with 477 and construction with 202.
These numbers are preliminary and are yet to be adjusted by the U.S. Labor Department.
Filings for unemployment benefits traditionally have been seen as a real-time gauge of the job market's health, but the measure's reliability has deteriorated during the pandemic. In many states, the weekly figures have been inflated by fraud and by multiple filings from unemployed Americans as they navigate bureaucratic hurdles to try to obtain benefits.
Those complications could help explain why the pace of applications remains comparatively high. Before the pandemic paralyzed the economy in March 2020, jobless applications were running at about 220,000 a week.
Many states, for example, require self-employed and gig workers to first seek conventional unemployment benefits — and be turned down — before they can apply through a program that was set up last year to provide jobless aid to them for the first time.
A total of about 12 million people are receiving unemployment benefits, down sharply from the previous week's figure of nearly 13 million.
Weekly jobless figures include only people actively seeking work and unemployment benefits and therefore do not necessarily give a complete picture of how many are out of work
Iowa Workforce Development said Thursday it is hosting a booth at the State Fair, in the northwest corner of the Varied Industries building. The fair, held annually in Des Moines, will run through Aug. 22.