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Jobless Claims Show Modest Labor Market Improvement

The number of Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits shrank last week, an improvement thanks in part to stabilization in the labor market but also in how the Labor Department reports the numbers.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 881,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits for the week ended Aug. 22, down from a revised 1.006 million claims the week earlier. Economists polled by FactSet had been expecting claims of 965,000.

Continuing claims, which are the number of people not just filing but staying on unemployment benefits, came in at 13.254 million for the week ended Aug. 15, revised downward from 14.492 the previous week, the Labor Department said.

From the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, economists and market-watchers have been keeping an eagle eye on weekly jobless claims figures for signs of how the unprecedented economic shutdown and subsequent reopening have impacted the labor market.

At the same time, the Labor Department’s weekly tally of jobless claims haven’t been reported on a seasonally adjusted basis – until now.

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