- New US jobless claims for the week that ended Saturday totaled 900,000, down from the previous period’s revised total of 926,000.
- Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected claims to drop to 935,000.
- Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, fell to 5.1 million for the week that ended January 9.
Filings for US unemployment benefits declined last week as America’s labour-market recovery made sluggish progress amid elevated COVID-19 case counts.
New US jobless claims totaled an unadjusted 900,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labour Department announced Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected 935,000 filings for the period. The reading lands below the previous week’s revised sum of 926,000. The report also marks the first decline in four weeks.
Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, slid to 5.1 million for the week that ended January 9. Economists forecasted a reading of 5.3 million claims.
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Americans have filed more than 75 million claims for unemployment benefits since the pandemic first slammed economic activity in early 2020. That’s more than twice the 37 million filings made during the Great Recession. While weekly totals have declined from earlier in the pandemic, they still exceed the 665,000 filings made during the previous downturn’s worst week.
The encouraging government data is the first to be published since President Joe Biden took office on Wednesday. The 46th president is inheriting a public health crisis and economic recession the likes of which haven’t been seen in nearly a century, and the labour market’s moderating pace of recovery could help him argue for passing additional stimulus.
Biden has already pushed for $US1.9 trillion in new fiscal support. The president’s plan includes $US1,400 direct payments, expanded unemployment benefits, and state and local government relief. Democrats’ soft majority in the Senate improves their chances at passing a package as part of a budget reconciliation measure, but Republicans are likely to oppose the bill for its hefty price tag.
Whether fresh stimulus is passed or not, the US economy remains in a dire phase of the pandemic. The country reported 185,822 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Hospitalizations stood at 122,700, while deaths neared 397,000. Johns Hopkins University’s data shows the death toll surpassing 400,000 earlier this week.
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