First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell below a million again last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. This happened before — in early August — before claims reversed course and bounced higher.
Another 881,000 Americans filed initial claims for benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Continued jobless claims, which count people filing for benefits for at least two weeks in a row, stood at a seasonally adjusted 13.3 million, more than 1 million lower than last week.
A wonky aspect in the report: The Labor Department changed its methodology for seasonal adjustments starting with this report. Usually, seasonal adjustments are designed to smooth the data and make it more easily comparable. But during the pandemic's unprecedented effect on the labor market they have added some noise to the data.
On an unadjusted basis, unemployment insurance claims rose to more than 833,000, an increase of about 7,500.
Still, the trend is mostly pointing in the right direction. The US jobs market is gradually recovering from the pandemic lockdown shock. That said, millions of people continue to rely on state benefits to make ends meet while Congress is squabbling about a next round of stimulus.
These numbers don't include claims for the government's other, pandemic-specific programs, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
The Labor Department will again review its adjustment models at the start of next year.