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Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans lost their jobs at a frenetic pace beginning in March, as unemployment figures rocketed to never-before-seen totals, but they are not coming back nearly as quickly, data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows.

Why it matters: While the number of claims has fallen, nearly 35 million Americans were receiving or had applied for some kind of unemployment insurance as of June 13.

  • Those numbers are especially shocking given that businesses have been reopened in certain parts of the U.S. for close to a month after government-imposed lockdowns.
  • “Labor market problems have shifted away from mass closings and layoffs in immediate response to shutdown orders, and toward still-catastrophic numbers of new layoffs related to the long-term, reverberating effects of a recession,” Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, told Reuters.

Driving the news: The Labor Department found another 1.51 million Americans filed new applications for traditional jobless benefits last week, down slightly from 1.57 million applications the week before.

Watch this space: The number of people applying for benefits via the government's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program increased by nearly 60,000 last week.

  • The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program saw claims rise by close to half a million for the week ended May 30.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Sep 24, 2020 - Economy & Business

The American economic paradox

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It's the rebound economists didn't see coming.

Why it matters: America did nothing that should have been necessary to really get the economy moving again. We didn't get the coronavirus under control, and we gave up on fiscal stimulus after a single short-lived round of it. Nevertheless, we're about to close out by far the strongest quarter of economic growth in American history.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.