US weekly jobless claims drop less than expected to 793,000 as labour recovery stagnates

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  • US jobless claims totaled 793,000 last week, down slightly from the previous week’s revised total of 812,000.
  • The reading landed above the economist estimate of 760,000 claims but still marks a fourth straight weekly decline.
  • Continuing claims fell slightly to 4.5 million for the week that ended January 30.
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The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance declined last week as the US labour market’s rebound continued, albeit at a moderating pace.

New jobless claims reached an unadjusted 793,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labour Department said. That missed economist estimates the foresaw filings totaling 760,000.

Still, the reading lands beneath the revised 812,000 claims filed the week prior marking a fourth straight decline.

Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, dipped to 4.5 million for the week that ended January 30. Economists forecasted continuing claims to total 4.4 million.

Roughly 78 million claims for unemployment benefits have been made since the pandemic first roiled the US economy in March. By comparison, the Great Recession saw only 37 million filings. Weekly counts also remain at historically elevated levels despite trending near their lowest of the pandemic.

Government data detailing the labour market’s performance in January offered a similarly gloomy outlook. The Bureau of Labour Statistics revealed Friday that the US economy added 49,000 jobs last month, less than half the growth expected by economists. December’s payroll decline was revised higher, and the labour force participation rate dipped to its lowest since September.

Where some saw the data as a sign of a halted recovery, others deemed it proof more fiscal aid is needed to revive the economy. The risks associated with passing too small a bill are far larger than those that come with overdoing stimulus, President Joe Biden said.

The absence of fresh relief also runs the risk of pushing more Americans out of the job search entirely, Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist, told Insider. With about 10 million people still without work, continuing at the current pace of recovery would leave the US mired in a prolonged bout of economic pain.

“A year into this, people are tired, the hardship is mounting, and the longer this goes, the more permanent the damage,” Sahm said.


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