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Another 2.98 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Why it matters: The coronavirus is still forcing a historically high number of Americans out of work. In two months alone, more than 36 million people have filed jobless claims.

Data: U.S. Employment and Training Administration via FRED; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Between the lines: The pace of new applications has slowed from its peak in March, but the weekly numbers are still way higher than before businesses shuttered to contain the outbreak.

  • There are more jobless workers that haven't been able to get their application through. State unemployment offices are racing to get through an avalanche of unemployment filings — with states like New York processing more claims in the past few months than they have in years.
  • Measuring the backlog is "like trying to measure the ocean, it's constantly moving," New York Labor Department commissioner Roberta Reardon said in a press call yesterday.
  • While more Americans than ever before are eligible for unemployment, including gig workers, some states are just beginning to scale up to accept those applications.

By the numbers: The total number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits — after initially applying — rose, bringing the total to a record 22.8 million.

  • A decrease in this figure would be an indication that Americans are returning back to work.

The bottom line: Goldman Sachs estimates the unemployment rate will hit 25%, matching the peak level of joblessness during the Great Depression.

Go deeper

The fight over turning gig workers into gig employees

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The gig economy model powering a number of key tech giants threatens to break down in California, in a battle that may spill out across the country over whether gig workers should be considered employees.

Why it matters: Treating gig companies' workers as employees would guarantee them benefits and other rights they don't necessarily get as independent contractors. But the prospect presents an existential threat to the firms' business models.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

3 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.