Unemployment beneifts: 730,000 Americans filed for jobless claims last week

That was far fewer than economists had predicted, and a massive 111,000-claim drop from the prior week’s number of applications.
Despite the surprising drop, the labor market is still not close to being back on its feet nearly a year into the pandemic. For the past six months, weekly state unemployment claims have been below a million, but never fell lower 711,000 set in November.

On top of that, 451,402 people not eligible for regular state claims, such as the self-employed or gig workers, filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This number is not seasonally adjusted.

Added together, first-time claims stood at 1.2 million without seasonal adjustments last week.

Continued claims for jobless benefits stood at 4.4 million in the week ended February 13, a slight decrease from the prior week.

For states, the long-term joblessness of so many people is a growing financial burden. As of Tuesday, some 19 states borrowed more than $50 billion from the federal government to pay out benefits, according to the US Treasury.

California has borrowed $19.5 billion, while New York has borrowed just under $10 billion. Texas has borrowed about $6.5 billion.

–Tami Luhby contributed to this story. This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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