WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to a still-high 840,000, evidence that job cuts remain elevated seven months into the pandemic recession.

The latest sign of a flagging recovery comes two days after President Donald Trump cut off talks over a new rescue aid package that economists say is urgently needed for millions of unemployed Americans and struggling businesses. A failure to enact another round of government aid would crimp household income and spending, and some economists say it would raise the risk of a double-dip recession.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department said the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits dropped 1 million to 11 million. The decline suggests that many of the unemployed are being recalled to their old jobs. But it also reflects the fact that some have used up the 26 weeks of their regular state benefits and have transitioned to extended benefit programs that last an additional three months.

In Massachusetts, more than 28,500 individuals filed new unemployment claims, up about 3,000 from the week prior.

Nearly 11,000 more applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, which was on par with the previous week’s numbers. The federal program provides aid for gig workers and others who are not eligible for standard state unemployment.

The weekly count of Americans applying for unemployment benefits has become less reliable as some states have increased their efforts to root out fraudulent claims and process earlier applications that have piled up.

California, for example, which accounts for more than one-quarter of the nation’s unemployment applications, last week simply provided the same figure it had supplied two weeks ago. That was because the state has stopped accepting jobless claims online for two weeks so it can implement anti-fraud technology and

The Friday Market Minute

  • Global stocks press forward on U.S. stimulus hopes, with gains in Europe capped by a worrying surge in coronavirus infection rates.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will resume talks Friday, with President Trump pressing for stand-alone agreements versus the Democrats preference for a comprehensive relief bill.
  • European coronavirus infections are rising at record levels in many major economies as the autumn weather turns, but leaders are hoping to avoid sweeping lockdowns in the weeks ahead.
  • Oil prices on pace for a 10% week gain on supply outages and improving demand, while the dollar tumbles to a three-week low against a basket of its global peers.
  • U.S. equity futures suggest a firmer open on Wall Street, which is looking at its best five-day stretch since August, heading into the teeth of the third quarter earnings seasons next week.

U.S. equity futures edged higher Friday, while the dollar retreated to a three-week low and oil prices slipped, as investors consolidated gains from the best week on Wall Street since mid-summer and braced for what could be a game-changing series of events in the coming days.

With markets still clinging to hopes that House Democrats and their Republican rivals in the Senate can reach an agreement on a coronavirus relief bill in the final three weeks before the November Presidential elections, the S&P 500 has gained around 2.9% so far this week, building its advance around solid corporate sales updates, progress in coronavirus vaccine development and modestly improving jobs numbers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will continue their weeks-long negotiations Friday, with President Donald Trump pressing for a series of ‘stand alone’ stimulus deals instead of the comprehensive $2.2 trillion package preferred by Democrats.

The third quarter earnings season will unofficially

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

Applications for jobless benefits remained high last week, even as the collapse of stimulus talks in Washington raised fears of a new wave of layoffs.

More than 804,000 Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That is up from 799,000 the week before, before accounting for seasonal patterns. Another 464,000 people applied for benefits under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which covers freelancers, self-employed workers and others left out of the regular unemployment system.

For the second week in a row, the reported number will carry a golden-state-sized asterisk: California last month announced that it would temporarily stop accepting new unemployment applications while it addresses a huge processing backlog and puts in place procedures to weed out fraud.

In the absence of up-to-date data, the Labor Department is assuming California’s claim number was unchanged from its pre-shutdown figure of more than 225,000 applications, or more than a quarter of the national total. The state began accepting new filings this week, and is expected to resume reporting data in time for next week’s report, though it isn’t yet clear how the backlog of claims filed this week will be reflected.

While the lack of data from California makes week-to-week comparisons difficult, the larger trend is clear: After falling swiftly from a peak of more than 6 million last spring, weekly jobless claims have stalled at a level far higher than the worst weeks of past recessions.

“The level of claims is still staggeringly high,” said Daniel Zhao,

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week to a still-high 837,000, evidence that the economy is struggling to sustain a tentative recovery that began this summer.

The Labor Department’s report, released Thursday, suggests that companies are still cutting a historically high number of jobs, though the weekly numbers have become less reliable as states have increased their efforts to root out fraudulent claims and process earlier applications that have piled up.

California, for example, which accounts for more than one-quarter of the nation’s aid applications, this week simply provided the same figure it did the previous week. That’s because the state has stopped accepting new jobless claims for two weeks so it can implement anti-fraud technology and address a backlog of 600,000 applications that are more than three weeks old.

Overall jobless aid has shrunk in recent weeks even as roughly 25 million people rely upon it. The loss of that income is likely to weaken spending and the economy in the coming months.


A $600-a-week federal check that Congress provided in last spring’s economic aid package was available to the unemployed in addition to each state’s jobless benefit. But the $600 benefit expired at the end of July. A $300 weekly benefit that President Donald Trump offered through an executive order lasted only through mid-September, although some states are still working to send out checks for that period.

A result is that Americans’ incomes and spending are declining or slowing. Total paid unemployment benefits plunged by more than half in August, according to the Commerce Department. That pulled down Americans’ incomes for the month by 2.7% — a trend that, if it continues, could weaken economic growth.

Consumer spending did rise 1% that month, down from 1.5% in July. But that increase relied