The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a seven-month low last week, but the pace of decline has slowed and further improvement could be limited by a raging COVID-19 pandemic and lack of additional fiscal stimulus.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 709,000 for the week ended Nov. 7 compared to 757,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 735,000 applications in the latest week.

Despite claims dropping to their lowest since March, they remained above their 665,000 peak during the 2007-09 Great Recession. Weak demand, especially in the services sector, is forcing employers to shed workers. Layoffs could accelerate as new coronavirus cases explode across the country.


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