- US jobless claims reached 779,000 last week, down the previous week’s revised total of 812,000.
- In an encouraging sign for the labour market, the number fell short of the 830,000 claims expected by economists.
- Continuing claims fell to 4.6 million for the week that ended January 23.
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The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance dropped last week as COVID-19 cases fell and Democrats pushed for a near-term stimulus deal.
New US jobless claims reached an unadjusted 779,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labour Department said Tuesday. That came in below the consensus estimate of 830,000 from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
The previous week’s reading was revised lower to 812,000 from 847,000. Thursday’s data marks a third straight decline in weekly claims counts.
Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, slipped to 4.6 million for the week that ended January 23. Economists expected continuing claims to hit 4.7 million.
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More than 77 million jobless claims have been made since the pandemic hit the US last spring. The sum is more than double the 37 million filings made during the Great Recession. Weekly counts continue to exceed the 665,000 filings made during the previous downturn’s worst week.
The US labour market remains in a weakened state, but several signals suggest a more robust recovery can soon emerge. For one, Democrats have taken the first steps toward passing the sweeping stimulus proposal backed by President Joe Biden. The House on Wednesday approved a bill opening the door for budget reconciliation, a process that allows Democrats to pass stimulus with a simple majority and, in turn, skirting the need for any Republican support.
The package is expected to include $US1,400 direct payments, expanded unemployment insurance, and aid for state and local governments. Democrats are expected to push the legislation through in the coming weeks, but more conservative members of the party have called for aid to be more targeted to those with the greatest need. The party is now mulling a plan that would issue the full $US1,400 payment to individuals earning $US50,000 or less.
New stimulus is set to arrive as COVID-19 case counts show a more encouraging trend than in months past. The US reported 116,960 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to The COVID Tracking Project. That’s down significantly from the additions seen just one week ago. Hospitalizations dropped to 91,440 and total deaths reached 440,922.
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