1.5 million U.S. workers filed new state unemployment claims last week

Right now 1.5 million U.S. workers filed new state unemployment claims last week, as businesses reopened in fits and starts and virus cases spiked.

1.5 million workers filed new claims for state unemployment insurance last week, the Labour Department reported Thursday, the 14th week in a row that the figure has topped one million.

An additional 728000 filed for benefits from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded emergency program aimed at covering the self-employed, independent contractors and other workers who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment insurance.

The total number of people collecting state unemployment insurance is 19.5 million, down from nearly 25 million in early May.

The latest data come amid conflicting signals for the economy. On the one hand, New York and some other places that were hard hit are starting to get back to business.

But a spike in cases in states that reopened earlier has raised fears of new setbacks. On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas urged residents to stay home and warned that the state might have to impose new restrictions if the virus could not be contained. And California and Florida have each posted record numbers of new cases in recent days.

After reopening, Apple has shut its stores in four states — Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Arizona — and on Wednesday closed seven stores in Houston.

“The renewed outbreak will hinder the recovery,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago. “I can’t help but think that the willingness of consumers to be in crowded places has diminished. It’s going to be a long haul to get back to where we were before the pandemic.”