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US jobless claims fall below 1 million but remain high

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment dropped below 1 million last week for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak took hold in the U.S. five months ago, but layoffs are still running extraordinarily high.

The figures show that the crisis continues to throw people out of work just as the expiration of an extra $600 a week in federal jobless benefits has deepened the hardship for many — and posed another threat to the U.S. economy.

Applications for jobless benefits declined to 963,000, the second straight drop, from 1.2 million the previous week, the government said Thursday. That signals layoffs are slowing, though the weekly figure still far exceeds the pre-outbreak record of just under 700,000, set in 1982.

The virus is blamed for more than 166,000 deaths and 5.2 million confirmed infections in the U.S.

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