Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The number of newly filed jobless claims has steadily dropped since peaking in March, but the pandemic is still forcing more than a million workers to the ranks of unemployment each week — over twice the all-time record seen before the coronavirus hit.

By the numbers:

  • Continued claims, the number of Americans who remain on unemployment after initially applying, ticked down to 19.5 million. Consistent drops in this figure are a sign that a wave of workers are falling off the ranks of unemployment and possibly returning to work, but the number hasn't budged significantly in recent weeks.
  • Another 728,000 workers filed for unemployment under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which allows self-employed workers to receive unemployment benefits.
  • More than 11 million people continue to receive benefits under this program after initially applying — 1.7 million more than the Department of Labor reported last week.

What they're saying: "The stickiness that we see in claims is a reason to be concerned," Michelle Meyer, an economist at Bank of America, told Bloomberg.

  • Even as states reopen economies, "there’s still some firing going on."
  • The weekly jobless claims report is the most timely snapshot of the labor market, but it only reflects how many people are losing work. It doesn't show whether (or how many people) are being hired.

What to watch: Economists worry the bit of healing we’ve seen in the job market is cooling — and could backslide further if businesses close where coronavirus cases are spiking.

Go deeper

There are twice as many unemployment claims as unemployed people

Data: Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. Note: This chart was updated to show the data for both claims and number of unemployed persons were as of July 2

Thursday's jobs report from the Labor Department showed the U.S. added nearly 5 million jobs in June, leaving 17.8 million people unemployed, but the Labor Department also reported that more than 31 million people were receiving unemployment benefits and an additional 6 million had applied as of June 27.

What happened: The CARES Act allowed for Americans who would not typically be eligible for unemployment assistance to qualify for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, including part-time workers and the self-employed.

People of color and those with the lowest incomes are most likely to be relying on unemployment

Photo: John Sommers II/Getty Images

Workers of color, women and the lowest-income people are more likely to be relying on unemployment benefits this month, according to projections released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The weekly unemployment claims report doesn't have a demographic breakdown of who's receiving unemployment aid.

U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs last month, while the unemployment rate dropped to 11.1% from 13.3% in May, according to government data released Thursday.

The state of play: While the labor market showed more signs of recovery when the government’s survey period ended in early June, the lag means that more recent developments, like the surge in coronavirus cases and resultant closures in some states, aren't captured in this data.