As the nation's political drama continues to play out, the U.S. job market is showing signs of slowing down. The number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits last week ticked down to 751,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, a slight decline from 758,000 applications the previous week.
Another 363,000 people applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a special government relief program for self-employed workers and others who don't qualify for regular federal or state unemployment aid. As of mid-October, 21.5 million people, or about 1 in 7 workers, were receiving some sort of jobless aid.
The job market has been under pressure since the coronavirus paralyzed the economy earlier this year, regaining roughly half the 22 million jobs that were lost in April and May. The pace of hiring has also steadily weakened, from 4.8 million payroll gains in June to 661,000 in September. The unemployment rate remains elevated at 7.9%.
Big companies, in particular, also continue to lay off workers. Exxon Mobil said last week that it was slashing 1,900 jobs in the U.S. Chevron said it planned to cut a quarter of the employees at its recently acquired Noble Energy, with the pandemic sapping demand for fuel. Charles Schwab plans to cut 1,000 jobs after absorbing TD Ameritrade.
Boeing said it would make deeper cuts to its workforce than originally planned. It has been losing money because the pandemic has depressed demand for new planes. The aviation giant expects to end 2020 with 30,000 fewer employees than it had at the start of this year.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.