Fewer than 1 million U.S. workers have filed for new unemployment benefits, the first time in months the figure has been that low, the Labor Department said in its weekly report Thursday.

The report listed 963,000 new claims for the week ending Aug. 8, a decrease of 228,000 from the previous week. It listed the unemployment rate at 10.6%.

Thursday’s report also revised up last week’s claims by 5,000.

Most economists expected about 1.1 million new claims. The department said there are 15.5 million continuing claims, the lowest since the pandemic began. Continuing claims lag initial claims by a week.

Thursday’s report ended a streak of 20 consecutive weeks, dating back to the middle of March, in which initial claims exceeded 1 million. More than 55 million U.S. workers have submitted unemployment insurance claims during that period.

“We’re just running a lot of layoffs week after week even as a lot of people are coming back to work,” said LinkedIn economist Guy Berger told MarketWatch. “There’s still a lot of labor market distress out there that’s emerging.”

More layoffs occurring now are permanent rather than temporary, as was the case at the onset of the health crisis, he added.

The Labor Department’s July jobs report last week showed the U.S. economy added 1.8 million payrolls for the month.

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