(BREITBART) – New claims for unemployment benefits declined by 249,000 to 1.186 million last week, data from the Department of Labor showed Thursday.
This is the 20th consecutive week of initial claims above 1 million but it was much better than expected. Economists had forecast 1.442 new claims, a slight increase from the previous week. The prior week was revised up by 1,000 to 1.435 million.
Claims hit a record 6.87 million for the week of March 27. Until two weeks ago, each subsequent week has seen claims decline. In last week's report, based on the previous week's labor market, claims actually rose. That was seen as a signal that the labor market could be stalling as infection rates surged higher in many parts of the country.
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The unexpected decline appears to indicate a subsequent strengthening at the end of July, despite many businesses and states rolling back or delaying reopening plans. Reports in August, including Friday's much-anticipated jobs report for July, will paint a clearer picture of the health of the labor market.