Weekly Jobless Claims Fall, But Still Top 1 Million for 16th Straight Week

July 9, 2020 by Dan McCue
A masked worker at this state WIN job center in Pearl, Miss., holds an unemployment benefit application form as she waits for a client, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

WASHINGTON – More than 1.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a pace that suggests employers continue to lay people off in the face of a resurgent coronavirus.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of jobless benefits claims did decline from 1.4 million in the previous week, but that the number of people filing claims remains high.

Before the pandemic, the record high for weekly unemployment applications was fewer than 700,000.

An additional 1 million people sought benefits last week under a separate program for self-employed and gig workers that has made them eligible for aid for the first time.

At the same time, there was some good news in Thursday’s report: the total number of people who are actually receiving jobless benefits dropped by 700,000 to 18 million, a sign that some companies are continuing to rehire workers.

Americans are seeking unemployment aid against the backdrop of a surge in confirmed viral cases, with increases reported in 38 states. Case counts have especially accelerated in four states that now account for more than half of reported new U.S. cases: Arizona, California, Florida and Texas.

In the face of the uptick of new cases, six states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Texas — have reversed earlier moves to reopen businesses. Those six states comprised about one-third of the U.S. economy.

Fifteen other states have suspended their re-openings.

While the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global jobs market, the freelance market has actually seen a surge in demand, according to a new report from online freelance marketplace Freelancer.

Freelance job openings increased over 25% during the April to June quarter of 2020 — compared to the first three months of the year, Freelancer’s “Fast 50” report found.

The quarterly study tracks movements from the top 50 fastest growing and declining jobs on the site’s global marketplace which spans North America, Europe and Asia.

Freelance job postings rose 41% to 605,000 in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, according to the report.

The jobs that saw the greatest surge in demand from employers in the second quarter tended to be those directly connected to the pandemic, according to the report.

Jobs related to mathematical modeling — including mathematics, Matlab and algorithm projects — saw the greatest increase over the quarter, as they surged 99.6% to 16,501 jobs.

Statistics and statistical analysis positions also saw a major uptick, rising 75% to 7,397 jobs.

Much of that demand came from health-care institutions, governments, businesses and media organizations, which increasingly require number crunchers to “interpret, analyze and report” data on cases, hospitalizations, mortality rates, testing, as well as the impact of the pandemic, the report noted.

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