CORONAVIRUS

U.S. job losses remain historically high

Job market's gains weaken

Employers nationwide advertised more jobs but hired fewer workers in July, sending mixed signals about a job market in t
Employers nationwide advertised more jobs but hired fewer workers in July, sending mixed signals about a job market in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Above, a help-wanted sign in Farmington, Pa. (Associated Press)

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits was unchanged last week at 884,000, a sign that layoffs remain stuck at a historically high level six months after the viral pandemic flattened the economy.

The latest figures released by the U.S. Labor Department Thursday coincide with other recent evidence that the job market’s improvement may be weakening after solid gains through spring and most of summer.

The number of people seeking jobless aid each week still far exceeds the number who did so in any week on record before this year.

Hiring has slowed since June, and a rising number of laid-off workers now say they regard their job loss as permanent.

The number of people who are continuing to receive state unemployment benefits rose last week, after five weeks of declines, to 13.4 million.

That is evidence that employers aren’t hiring enough to offset layoffs.

Job postings have leveled off in the past month, according to the employment website Indeed.

“The claims data were disappointing,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

“It is especially concerning that the pace of layoffs has not slowed more materially even though the economy has reopened more fully and more and more businesses have come back online.”

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Last week, the government reported that the nation gained 1.4 million jobs in August, down from 1.7 million in July.

It was the lowest monthly gain since hiring resumed in May.

A number of major corporations have announced mass job cuts. The latest to do so, Marriott International, said Wednesday that it will permanently cut 673 corporate jobs — 17 percent of its workforce — late next month.

Marriott had furloughed two-thirds of its corporate staff in March, when the pandemic intensified, though some of those people are returning to work.

But the job cuts announced Wednesday are permanent.

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