Just under 1.2 million people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, a decline from the past two weeks but still the 20th straight week of claims above 1 million. The weekly total of 1.186 million is lower than economist predictions of 1.4 million claims.
The weekly data, released Thursday by the Department of Labor, comes ahead of Friday's highly anticipated monthly jobs report, which offers a more comprehensive — though backward-looking — assessment of the labor market. While the unemployment rate is expected to have fallen to around 10.6 percent, recent layoffs by businesses affected by the spike in coronavirus rates in some parts of the country are unlikely to have been captured in the monthly snapshot.
Just this week, Booking Holdings, which operates travel sites such as Kayak and booking.com, said it would be slashing its workforce by 25 percent, laying off 4,000 people. Nike announced it would be cutting 500 workers from its Oregon headquarters. NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News, also laid off around 10 percent of its 35,000-strong workforce.