The number of new applications for unemployment benefits last week was 963,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday, as jobless claims for the first time dropped below a million after 20 consecutive weeks of being above that figure.
Economists had projected that claims would total 1.1 million.
The total number of people claiming jobless benefits in all programs for the week ending July 25 was 28.3 million, a decrease of over 3 million from the previous week. For comparison, there were 1.7 million people claiming benefits for all programs in the same week in 2019.
While jobless claims remain at historic highs, Mark Hamrick, a senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, noted that they have fallen in places particularly affected by the coronavirus.