New weekly jobless claims fall below 1 million

The number dips below a million for the first time since March

In the week ending August 8, new claims for unemployment benefits fell below one million nationally for the first time in some 21 weeks, a milestone in the COVID-19 recession.

The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was still clearly historically high — 963,000, a decrease of 228,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday morning.

In Montgomery County, there were 864 first-time claims for jobless benefits, while 18,177 claims were ongoing from previous weeks.

Clark County saw 198 new claims for jobless benefits, with 3,626 claims ongoing. In Butler County, there were 561 new claims, with 11,078 claims continuing. And in Warren County, those numbers were 283 and 5,531, respectively.

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PNC Financial Chief Economist Gus Faucher noted the 1 million claim milestone and said the labor market continues to improve.

“But unemployment remains a huge problem for the U.S. economy,” Faucher said in a note. “The number of people filing for unemployment insurance, both regular and PUA (federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) benefits, continues to steadily decline as layoffs abate. But job losses remain extremely elevated, far above their pre-pandemic level."

It could also be that the expiration of bonus unemployment payments of $600 per week at the end of July has discouraged some potential beneficiaries from applying for benefits, he added. “The expiration may also encouraged some beneficiaries to leave unemployment and take a job.”

Meanwhile, across the whole state, Ohioans filed 20,969 initial or first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

This was 253,246 fewer than the peak earlier this year.

Ohioans filed 374,751 continued or ongoing jobless claims last week, which were 401,551 fewer than the peak earlier this year.

The total number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last 21 weeks (1,604,708) was more than the combined total of those filed during the last four years.

Over the last 21 weeks, ODJFS has distributed more than $5.9 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 778,000 Ohioans.

Of the more than 1 million applications the agency has received, about 94% have been processed, with about 6% pending, the state said.