New jobless claims are up 4,000 for the week that ended Aug. 21 for a total of 353,000, according to the weekly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Thursday (Aug. 26). The previous week’s report was revised up by 1,000 from 348,000 to 349,000.
The numbers are slightly higher than analysts’ forecasts of 350,000, as Yahoo! Finance and other news outlets reported. This is the first time in five weeks that numbers moved up instead of down. Overall, new claims are hovering on the low side of the pandemic, and nowhere near the historic high of 6.2 million in April 2020.
The biggest declines came from Michigan, Texas and Virginia. The biggest hikes were in Maryland, California and Illinois.
During the week ending Aug. 7, extended benefits were available in Alaska, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas. Pandemic benefits will end nationwide on Sept. 6.
Unemployment claims have seesawed between 368,000 and 424,000 since May, a marked improvement from the record highs during the early months of the pandemic. The numbers, however, are still considerably above any other time in the history of the U.S.
As jobless claims somewhat stabilize, the increase in the delta variant of COVID-19 could factor into the continuing labor shortages in numerous industries, particularly restaurants, travel, retail and entertainment.
“Fundamentally, if we look at the production side of the economy, labor’s going to come more back to the market after Labor Day when kids are back in school, where more folks are vaccinated when those unemployment benefits run out,” JoAnne Feeney, partner and portfolio manager at Advisors Capital Management, told Yahoo! Finance. “We have a lot of good fundamentals in place for continued economic growth.”