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.