The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell less than expected last week and applications for the prior period were revised up, suggesting the labour market recovery had shifted into low gear amid fading fiscal stimulus.

The weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department on Thursday, the most timely data on the economy’s health, also showed nearly 30 million people were on unemployment benefits at the end of August, laying bare both the continuing economic and human devastation six months after the COVID-19 pandemic started in the United States.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday vowed to keep interest rates near zero for a long time, noting that the coronavirus “will continue to weigh on economic activity” in the near term and “poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term.” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said more fiscal support was likely to be needed for the economy.

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