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US Jobless Hits 400,000 Mark Second Week in Row Amid COVID-19 Challenges - Labor Dept

© Bryan WoolstonFILE PHOTO: People line up outside a Kentucky Career Center hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claim in Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S. June 18, 2020
FILE PHOTO: People line up outside a Kentucky Career Center hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claim in Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S. June 18, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.07.2021
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WASHINGTON, (Sputnik) - US jobless claims stood at 400,000 and above for a second week in a row, according to Labor Department data on Thursday that suggested a continued challenge for the labor market recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"In the week ending July 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 400,000", the Labor Department said in a statement. In the previous week to July 17, claims stood at 424,000.
Economists polled by US media had anticipated between 350,000 and 380,000 claims for the week ended July 24.
"The 419,000 number initially reported last week was revised higher to 424,000", economist Greg Michalowski said in a post on ForexLive. "The expectations (for) last week was down (to) 350,000. So (this) number is not great if it indeed is a leading indicator for the monthly employment number."
Continuing claims for the week ended July - reported with a one-week lag - was at 3.27 million versus the 3.26 million reading for the week to July 17. The modest change left the weekly unemployment rate unchanged at 2.4 percent.
More than a year into the COVID-19 crisis, restoring job growth remains one of the main concerns of US policy makers.
The Labor Department said there were only 850,000 job additions for June. But as a whole, the United States lost more than 21 million jobs between March and April 2020, at the height of business lockdowns forced by the coronavirus pandemic measures. More than 7 million of those jobs have yet to return, officials say.
The US economy itself shrank 3.5 percent in 2020. Data released on Thursday showed a growth of 6.5 percent for the second quarter of this year, although even that was way below economists' estimates for an 8.5 percent expansion.
The Federal Reserve has forecast a 6.5 percent economic growth for all of 2021. But Chairman Jerome Powell says he does not expect "full employment" - defined by a monthly unemployment rate of 4 percent or lower - to occur anytime soon. The monthly unemployment rate stood at 5.9 percent in June. 
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