Last week, 770,000 Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis as the pandemic continues to hammer the economy, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.
It was an increase from the prior week and 70,000 claims more than economists had expected. It was also nearly three times as many claims as in the same week last year, just before the pandemic layoffs made benefit claims skyrocket.
On top of that, 282,394 filed for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program open to the self-employed and gig workers. Added together, more than 1 million people filed for first-time benefits last week, without seasonal adjustments.
Continued claims, which count people who have filed for benefits for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 4.1 million adjusted for seasonal swings.
In total, more than 18 million American workers received benefits under the government's various programs in the week ended Feb. 27.
A year after the pandemic shut down the US economy, America's workers are still hurting. For the past 12 months, first-time claims for jobless benefits have been higher than during the worst moments of the Great Recession.
Economists, politicians and workers alike are hoping that the continued vaccine rollout and warmer weather that allows more outdoor social activities will help the economy heal at a faster pace in the coming months.