New unemployment claims last week fell below 1 million for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic-fueled lockdowns were put in place in March, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

For the week ending August 8, 963,000 new unemployment claims were reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, a decline of 228,000 from the week prior.

The report, the first since the July jobs report was released last week, shows positive trends, even as numbers hover near historical highs.

In July, the unemployment rate and non-farm payroll employment rate experienced improvements, with unemployment declining 0.9 percent month over month to 10.2 percent. Meanwhile, employers added 1.8 million more jobs, primarily in the leisure and hospitality, government, retail trade, professional and business services and health care industries.

The report also comes amid the backdrop of Congress letting the additional unemployment benefits included in the CARES Act expire without a deal.

Email Patrick Kearns

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