The number of people filing initial unemployment claims dipped slightly last week to 837,000, holding relatively steady for the fifth week in a row as the labor market’s recovery continues at a crawl.

The figure, released Thursday by the Labor Department, is a decrease of 36,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Claims have stagnated at a historic level, though they remain well below a peak of nearly 7 million in March. The four-week moving average was 867,250 last week, while the pre-pandemic record sits just shy of 700,000.

Another 650,120 people applied for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was created by Congress to aid workers who would not otherwise qualify for jobless benefits, such as gig workers and self-employed people.

The number of people continually receiving jobless benefits, however, fell notably, decreasing by 980,000 to 11.8 million in the week ending Sept. 19 – a positive sign that furloughed workers are going back to work and that the unemployed are finding jobs.

The Labor Department is set to release its September jobs report Friday, which will include the unemployment rate. The rate sat at 8.4% in August, and experts expect it to fall only slightly.

A number of large companies have recently announced mass layoffs. United Airlines and American Airlines furloughed more than 35,000 workers in total on Thursday. The Walt Disney Co. announced earlier this week that it will lay off 28,000 employees.

“This marks 28 weeks since the COVID-caused downturn ignited an eruption of historic and, as we see once again, sustained job loss, even as some employers bring employees back to work. In recent days, there’s been word of combined thousands of job cuts beyond some of the usual suspects, in terms of sectors where job loss has been common,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, said in a statement. “This underscores the significant risk in the coming weeks and months of more widely shared pain resulting from pandemic related constraints.”

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