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New unemployment claims inch back up to 745,000

The big picture is largely holding steady, and still much higher than just before the pandemic.
A sign announcing hiring is displayed in the parking lot of a Home Depot on Feb. 22 in Cockeysville, Md.
A sign announcing hiring is displayed in the parking lot of a Home Depot on Feb. 22 in Cockeysville, Md. [ JULIO CORTEZ | AP ]
Published Mar. 4
Updated Mar. 4

After a big drop last week, the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims has inched back up again.

Another 745,000 workers filed their first claims for jobless benefits for the week ending Feb. 27, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That represents a slight hike from last week’s revised number of 736,000. By comparison, there were 217,000 initial claims nationwide during this same week in 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic struck the U.S. economy.

The four-week rolling average of new unemployment claims — a good measure of how the nation’s job situation is changing week to week — fell to just under 791,000, the first time since early December it’s been below 800,000.

Overall, the number of people receiving some form of unemployment stood at just over 18 million for the week ending Feb. 13, the most recent week for which that stat is available.

Florida last week saw one of its lowest new unemployment tallies of the pandemic, with 15,903 claims filed, down from a revised number of 18,630 the week before. The state has now paid more than $23.3 million to nearly 2.3 million claimants, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Related: Florida's unemployment fix could cost $244 million

On Wednesday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. unemployment rate rose 4.4 percentage points from 2019 to 2020, hitting 8.1 percent, while the ratio of employment to population fell four points to 56.8 percent. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York all saw unemployment rates over 10 percent, while Nebraska’s unemployment was lowest at 4.2 percent.

Florida’s unemployment rate split the difference, rising by the same average as the rest of the U.S. — 4.4 percent — to land at 7.7 percent for the year. The state’s rate was 6.1 percent in December; January’s rate will be released later this month.

Related: After unemployment fiasco, Florida senators move to punish vendors