Another 870,000 workers filed for jobless benefits last week

Another 870,000 new applications for unemployment insurance were processed last week, a slight increase from last week, as unemployment claims remain stubbornly high six months into the pandemic.

That figure is up slightly from the 866,000 applications, processed the week before, according to the Department of Labor.

Another 630,000 people had new claims processed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for self-employed and gig workers, down from 675,000 the week before.

“There’s nothing surprising in this,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “It’s just an ongoing crisis in the labor market.”

The total number of people claiming unemployment insurance dropped to 26 million for the week ending Sept. 5 — a drop of more than 3.5 million.

The new claim numbers have come down gradually from their peak in March but remain at historically high levels.

And as weeks turn to months since the extra $600 unemployment benefits lapsed at the end of July, concerns grow about the long term effects to the economy and the ability of the unemployed to pay basic bills with only state benefits.

“The data are so messed up that it’s important to not make too much of individual movements week to week, but the broad story really is we still have a lot of people needing new UI claims and that are depending on that,” Shierholz said.

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