WASHINGTON - Claims for government benefits by newly unemployed American workers rose to 1.42 million last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, reversing weeks of declines as coronavirus cases skyrocket nationwide.
The increase defied analysts' expectations of another weekly decrease in new claims, which spiked in March as US businesses shut down to stop the spread of coronavirus put have been dropping since.
Adding to the toll were the 974,999 people in 49 states who applied for benefits under a program for workers who would not normally be eligible -- an increase of nearly 20,000 from the week prior.
However, in the week ended July 11, the insured unemployment rate indicating people actually receiving benefits declined 0.7 points to 11.1 percent, an indication that some people are returning to work.
"The overall message is that an economy able to recover well is stalling due to health concerns," chief economic advisor at Allianz Mohamed A. El-Erian said on Twitter.
The world's largest economy has seen a surge in COVID-19 infections as states roll back reopening measures, with nearly 64,000 new cases reported in the 24 hours to Wednesday, Johns Hopkins University said.
Some of the states seeing the biggest jumps in joblessness were also among those with the highest number of coronavirus cases, including Florida, where claims jumped 65,890 in the week ended July 11, the Labor Department said.