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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

First-time applications for unemployment fell last week, according to Department of Labor data released on Thursday.

Between the lines: The overall number of Americans relying on unemployment also fell to a still-staggering 23 million. But there are continued signs of labor market strain, with more people shifting to an unemployment program designed for the long-term jobless.

By the numbers: Filings for regular state unemployment came in at 787,000 — still above pre-pandemic peaks, but a dramatic decline from the 6 million new weekly applications filed early on in the pandemic.

  • Add in applications for the unemployment program designed for gig workers and self-employed, and total new filings came to 1.1 million.
  • The report included figures from California, which paused reporting of its weekly claims figures to get through its growing backlog of new applications. Revisions from that state lowered the overall number of jobless applications in recent weeks.

What to watch: The number of workers that have continued to receive unemployment benefits — after filing for the first time — fell by over 1.2 million, but much of that decline is because workers have exhausted unemployment benefits.

  • Over half a million workers shifted into the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which allows those whose regular unemployment benefits expired to receive an additional 13 weeks of support.
  • More than 3 million Americans are now receiving benefits through that program.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 19, 2021 - Economy & Business

Economic growth is slowly returning

Data: New York Fed; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Fed's index of real-time data indicators shows the reversal of the economy's progress in late December and early January, but it moved upwards again last week.

Driving the news: Central bankers said the index's rise for the week of Jan. 9 was due to increases in tax withholding, fuel sales and rail traffic, which countered disappointing numbers for initial unemployment insurance claims and a decrease in electricity output.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Americans increasingly see China as an enemy

One in three Americans, and a majority of Republicans, now view China as an enemy of the United States, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Just 9% of Americans consider China a "partner," while 55% see Beijing as a "competitor" and 34% as an "enemy."

Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

A group of undocumented immigrants walk toward a Customs and Border Patrol station after being apprehended. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.