FILE - NH Job Openings, unemployment, jobless, labor 12-10-2020

A "Now Hiring" sign hangs on the front wall of a Harbor Freight Tools store Dec. 10, 2020, in Manchester, New Hampshire.

(The Center Square) – First-time unemployment claims in New Hampshire dropped again last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.

There were 439 new applications for state jobless benefits filed for the week that ended Sept. 4 – 127 fewer claims than the previous week, the federal agency reported on Thursday.

The state reported 15 new claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance last week, three less than the previous week, according to the report.

Meanwhile, continuing state unemployment claims – which lag behind a week – totaled 4,276 in the week ending Aug. 28, a decrease of 658 over the previous week.

PUA and other federal unemployment programs ended officially last week, after Congress declined to renew the pandemic jobless assistance.

New Hampshire is one of 25 states that prematurely ended its participation in the programs, which prompted a lawsuit by a group of jobless workers who have asked a judge to reinstate the PUA program for those eligible and provide payments dating back to mid-June, when the state ended its participation. The outcome of that case is still pending.

The state has distributed more than $1.8 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits to workers since March 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak began.

New Hampshire's jobless rate remained steady at 2.9% in July – one of the lowest rates in the nation, according to the New Hampshire Employment Security,

Nationally, there were 310,000 new claims filed in the week that ended Sept. 4, an increase of 35,000 from the previous week, according to the labor department.

Continuing unemployment claims, which lag behind a week, dropped by 22,000 to about 2.7 million nationally for the week that ended Aug. 28. That's a new pandemic low, according to the federal agency.

Overall, an estimated 11.9 million Americans were still receiving state or federal jobless benefits in the week ending Aug. 21, the agency reported.