An additional 2.1 million people filed initial claims for unemployment last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, bringing the total number of Americans who have sought aid since the start of the coronavirus lockdown to more than 40 million. That means the equivalent of one in every four U.S. workers have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold in mid-March. Last week’s figures mark the eighth week in a row that new jobless filings have dropped from a peak of almost 6.9 million, but they remain high compared to any other point in recent history. It could be that last week’s numbers are not all from fresh layoffs—The New York Times reports that a large section of the claims could be from states working their way through a backlog stretching back weeks.
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