Many likely sought jobless aid after federal benefit lapses

The U.S. government will provide its latest snapshot Thursday of the pace of layoffs, which have declined steadily but remain stuck at a high level with the economy still in the grip of the viral pandemic that erupted in March

WASHINGTON —
The government will provide its latest snapshot Thursday of the pace of layoffs in the United States, which have declined steadily but remain stuck at a high level with the economy still in the grip of the viral pandemic that erupted in March.

The number of applications that were reported last week fell below 1 million after 20 straight weeks above that level. Yet at roughly 960,000, it was still painfully high. Before the viral outbreak, the weekly figure had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession.

The latest string of layoffs follows the expiration of a $600 weekly federal check that provided vital support for millions of laid-off Americans. Negotiations in Congress to extend that benefit, though at a lower level of payment, have collapsed. The Trump administration is offering a new $300-a-week federal benefit, which states need to apply for and must revamp their computer systems to accommodate.