**FILE PHOTO**

The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits fell below one million last week for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic started in mid-March, according to the latest Labor Department statistics.

The unemployment claims for the week ending Aug. 8 show that 963,000 workers pursued assistance last week, pushing the total number since state and local governments enacted shutdown measures in March to about 56 million, The Associated Press reported.

Before the pandemic, the record high of 695,000 was set in 1982. Continuing claims — the number of people getting benefits after an initial week of aid — fell by 604,000 to 15.48 million, AP reported.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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