Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Americans were starting to fall off the rolls of unemployment. But Thursday's claims report shows the drop-off hasn't just stalled out — the trend continues to reverse course.

Why it matters: Skepticism about the underlying data remains. But economists are still worried about the high level of Americans relying on some form of unemployment benefits, which is once again rising six months after the pandemic hit, even as the economy has reopened.

By the numbers: Roughly 14.5 million workers were collecting benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides benefits to gig workers, the self-employed and others with limited work history, as of the week ending in Aug. 29.

  • That’s a drop-off from the prior week’s figure, but is still likely overstated.
  • A Labor Department spokesperson told WSJ that it's monitoring the PUA program and working with states where some of the numbers appear to be inflated.

Between the lines: A separate program designed to be tapped once regular unemployment benefits have been exhausted hit its highest level since it was established: 1.5 million people are now receiving benefits through that program.

What they’re saying: The rise in people in the extended unemployment benefits program "means ranks of the 'permanently unemployed' continue to increase," Robert Frick, an economist at the Navy Federal Credit Union, said in a statement.

  • That — plus the uptick in overall Americans receiving some form of unemployment — "add up to a situation where quick advances in driving down unemployment are stalling, and we can now expect tougher going, especially without more stimulus and a faster decline in COVID-19 cases."

What to watch: New state-level unemployment data is out later this morning. It's the most comprehensive look at how states’ labor markets fared in August.

  • 1 stat to go: Here's how quickly the pandemic shifted the ground for states across the country. 18 states both saw their lowest level of unemployment ever and their highest level of unemployment ever this year. (h/t AEI economist Ben Ippolito)

Go deeper

Dec 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden: "Darkest days" ahead

Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Rare words from an incoming president: "Our darkest days in the battle against COVID are ahead of us, not behind us," President-elect Biden warned Tuesday afternoon during remarks in Wilmington.

Why it matters: Biden is promising to tell America the truth, which includes the reality of many more horrific months, no matter who is in charge.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.