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Around 751,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week

Around 22 million jobs have been lost as a result of the pandemic, with just over 10 million jobs yet to be recovered.
Image: Food distribution site
People wait in line to receive food at a distribution site at a Bronx church on Oct. 17, 2020 in New York City.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

Around 751,000 people filed for initial jobless claims last week, a lower total than the prior week's revised total of 758,000, and an indication of a sluggish but steady workforce recovery.

The latest data confirms 10 straight weeks where the weekly total has fallen below 1 million, after months of historic highs that peaked at a record 7 million first-time unemployment claims in the spring.

Continuing claims, which show ongoing unemployment totals, also trended lower last week, after hitting a high of almost 25 million earlier this year. However, this data could also mean that claimants have used up their allotted weeks of regular state unemployment and moved on to a different compensation program.

Thursday's data comes ahead of the closely watched monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is expected to show that the economy gained around 600,000 jobs in the month of October. Around 22 million jobs have been lost as a result of the pandemic, with just over 10 million jobs yet to be recovered.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday pledged to pass a new economic stimulus bill before the end of the year to help struggling American families whose $600 in supplemental employment benefits expired at the end of July.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who is set to hold a press conference on Thursday afternoon to discuss the outcome of the Fed's latest monetary policymaking meeting, has repeatedly stressed that the burden of the pandemic has fallen unequally on women and minorities, saying “those least able to withstand the downturn have been affected most,” and that any economic recovery must address this disparity.

Last month, Powell addressed the need for more fiscal stimulus for American families and small businesses in more forceful terms than he has used previously, saying the fallout of failure to do so in short order could be “tragic.”