• Unemployment claims topped 1 million for the 19th straight week
  • BLS estimates the unemployment for the week ending July 18 was 11.6%, up a half point from June's overall rate
  • July's unemployment rate is to be released Aug. 7

The Labor Department reported Thursday initial unemployment claims crept upward last week, rising 12,000 from the previous week to more than 1.43 million. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the unemployment rate rose to 11.6% for the previous week, up a half point from the June average.

The overall July unemployment rate is to be released Aug. 7. June’s rate was 11.1%, down from the 14.7% posted in April when the U.S. economy virtually shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the 19th straight week claims topped 1 million.

Unadjusted figures indicate the number of initial claims for the week that ended July 25, the last week for which supplemental coronavirus benefits were to be available, indicated initial claims fell by 171,054 to 1.2 million. BLS had expected claims to fall by 180,650.

In the comparable week for 2019, 178,897 initial claims were filed.

“The virus spread and economic rollbacks in the weeks since do not bode well for the labor market in the weeks and months ahead,” chief financial analyst Greg McBride said in an email to International Business Times.

“The looming expiration of federal unemployment benefits without a clear-cut replacement threatens a chunk of consumer spending power that has sustained households and made its way back into the economy.”

Pandemic unemployment assistance was available in all 50 states. Two-thirds of the claims filed, 829,697, sought the extra $600 a week provided under the CARES Act. The Republican proposal introduced this week would trim that extra payment to $200 and cap unemployment benefits to 70% of an individual’s pre-coronavirus earnings.

“Today’s report provides even more evidence of prolonged labor market troubles and the need for the continuation of CARES Act aid,” unemployment expert Andrew Stettner of the Century Foundation told IBTimes. As the nation faces sustained, rising pressure from the pandemic, new state unemployment claims rose for the second straight week after having declined for the previous 15 weeks in a row. The Trump White House and Senate leadership are essentially gaslighting the American public: As our jobs crisis worsens, they tout a so-called recovery while seeking to decimate the safety net that is keeping millions of Americans afloat.”

More than 30.2 million people were receiving benefits for the week ended July 11, down 1.6 million from the previous week. That compares to 1.7 million people for the comparable week in 2019.

Unemployment was highest for the week ending July 11 in Puerto Rico, Nevada, Hawaii, Louisiana and New York. The largest increases in initial claims were posted in Louisiana, Virginia, California, Tennessee and Alabama while the largest decreases in claims were filed in Florida, Texas, Georgia, New Jersey and Washington.