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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 18, 2020 - Technology

The robo-job apocalypse is being delayed

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A sprawling new report makes the case that automation and AI won't lead to widespread job destruction anytime soon.

Why it matters: Technological advances in AI and automation will have an enormous impact on the workforce, but it may take decades for those effects to be fully felt. That gives business leaders and politicians a last chance to change labor and education policies that have left too many workers locked in low-quality, low-paying jobs.

14 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

4 hours ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”