More than one million Americans apply for jobless benefits

WASHINGTON (AP) — Just over one million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that the coronavirus outbreak continues to threaten jobs even as the housing market, auto sales and other segments of the economy rebound from a springtime collapse.

The United States (US) Labor Department reported yesterday that the number of people seeking jobless aid last week dropped by 98,000 from 1.1 million the week before. The number of initial claims has exceeded one million most weeks since late March. Before the coronavirus pandemic, they never topped 700,000 in a week.

More than 14.5 million are collecting traditional jobless benefits – up from 1.7 million a year ago – a sign that many American families are depending on unemployment checks to keep them afloat.

Until July 31, the unemployed were receiving an extra USD600 a week in federal money on top of regular state unemployment benefits, part of an extraordinary lifeline extended to help them through the crisis. The loss of that money is putting the squeeze on many families.

After passing a massive financial rescue package in March, congressional Republicans and Democrats have been unable to agree on more aid. US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 8 offering a stripped-down version of the expanded unemployment benefits.