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

Another 1.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Why it matters: The number of new unemployment applications has fallen steadily since peaking in March, but the number is still historically higher than before the pandemic hit. Economists are watching the weekly gauge for any sign that spiking unemployment may come alongside the sharp uptick in coronavirus cases around the country.

  • Texas, which is among the states seeing a surge in cases, reported over 20,000 new unemployment filings in the week ending July 4.
  • But Florida, which is similarly facing a rise, saw 17,000 fewer new jobless claims compared to the prior week. (Its labor department has seen complaints of delays for jobless people applying and receiving benefits.)

By the numbers: An additional 1 million people applied for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides unemployment benefits to the self-employed or gig workers.

  • The number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits — after initially applying — ticked down slightly to 18.1 million from 18.7 million the prior week. Consistent drops in this figure are an indication that Americans are falling off the rolls of unemployment and possibly returning back to work.
  • Separately, another 14.4 million are still claiming benefits under the PUA program — roughly 1.5 million more than the prior week.

For context: The record number of new unemployment filings before the pandemic was set in 1982, when 695,000 people filed for unemployment.

  • Combining new applications for regular unemployment and PUA, the number of new claims last week is more than triple this prior record.

What to watch: The week ending July 25 is the last that people are eligible to receive the more generous unemployment benefits — an additional $600 per week — authorized under the federal stimulus bill.

  • It’s unclear whether Congress will extend those benefits, which would leave tens of millions of jobless Americans with less of a cushion.

Go deeper

Uber CEO proposes "benefits funds" for gig workers

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called for establishing "benefits funds" for gig workers in a New York Times op-ed out Monday.

Why it matters: Gig workers, who remain independent contractors and not employees, have long pushed companies like Uber for benefits comparable to those received by traditional workers. The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant economic strain has broadened those calls.

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 20,158,258 — Total deaths: 738,063 — Total recoveries: 12,388,686Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 5,116,791 — Total deaths: 164,137 — Total recoveries: 1,670,755 — Total tests: 62,513,174Map.
  3. States: Florida reports another daily record for deaths State testing plans fall short of demand.
  4. Axios-Ipsos poll: 1 in 2 has a personal connection to COVID-19.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. 🏈 Sports: Big Ten scraps fall football season due to coronavirus.
19 mins ago - Sports

Big Ten postpones fall sports due to coronavirus

Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Big Ten announced Tuesday that it has voted to postpone its 2020 fall sports season, including football, due to risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, hoping instead to play in the spring.

Why it matters: The move from one of the most prominent conferences in college sports will almost certainly prompt other Power Five leagues to follow suit.