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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

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

Study: 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since May

People wait in line at a food distribution site in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Nearly 8 million Americans have slid into poverty since May, according to a Columbia University study reported by the New York Times.

Why it matters: The researchers found that the monthly poverty rate for September was higher than rates during April or May, and it also topped pre-crisis levels, "[d]ue to the expiration of the CARES Act’s stimulus checks and $600 per week supplement to unemployment benefits."

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.