Another 1.5 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Department of Labor announced Thursday, bringing the 12-week total for first-time claims to more than 44 million.
While weekly initial claims have maintained a downward trend over the last 10 weeks, the latest number is still more than twice the pre-pandemic record high of 695,000 set in 1982.
The report also suggests that some workers have begun to return to their jobs, with the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits dropping to 20.9 million, down from a revised 21.3 million the week before. Still, that number is stunningly high relative to previous recessions.
Federal Reserve head Jay Powell recently said that the economic recovery was likely to be sluggish and stretch well into next year. On Wednesday the Fed estimated an unemployment rate of 9.3% at the end of 2020.