1.4 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment last week, according to weekly statistics from the Department of Labor.
That's a slight uptick — about 20,000 additional claims — from the previous week's figures. Last week's report also indicated a slight increase in unemployment claims, the first increase in several months.
Thursday's report marks the 19th straight week in which more than a million Americans have filed claims for unemployment. During that time, more than 51 million people have sought unemployment insurance.
While figures are down significantly since a peak of about 6 million claims in March, they remain historically high.
The report also comes as increased federal unemployment benefits provided through the CARES Act are set to expire. Negotiations are underway on Capitol Hill for another round fo COVID-19 stimulus, but Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on negotiations.
In passing the HEROES Act, House Democrats proposed extending those increased benefits, totaling about $600 a week, through the end of the year and extending them to gig workers and self-employed people. However, Republicans said this week they'd like to reduce unemployment benefits to $200 a week for just the next couple of months — a proposal that leaves some deficit hawks in the party uncomfortable.
While Democrats say increased benefits will offer assistance to those too sick to work and to those who cannot work if schools are closed due to the pandemic, Republicans argue that the $600 benefits discourage people from working.
The report also comes as a surge of cases in the Sun Belt appears to be tapering off, but experts warn that the surge could move north to the Midwest in the weeks and days ahead.