- New US jobless claims for the week that ended Saturday totaled 965,000, the Labour Department said Thursday, signalling the labour market’s rebound weakened through the end of the holiday season.
- Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a reading of 800,000 claims.
- The data shows a sizable increase from the previous week’s revised number of 784,000. The jump was the biggest since March.
- Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, rose to 5.3 million for the week that ended January 2. That’s above the consensus economist forecast of 5.3 million.
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The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumped last week as rising COVID-19 cases continued to cut into the labour market’s recovery.
New US jobless claims totaled an unadjusted 965,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labour Department announced Thursday. That comes in well above the 800,000 claims expected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The reading is also greater than the previous week’s revised total of 784,000 and reflects the biggest increase since March.
Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment-insurance payments, rose to 5.3 million for the week that ended January 2. That came in above the median economist forecast of 5 million.
More than 74 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic first froze US economic activity in March. That’s twice as many filings as were made during the 18-month Great Recession. And while the worst week of the previous recession saw filings total 665,000, claims have failed to break below 700,000 throughout the pandemic.
“While prospects for the economy later in 2021 are upbeat, the labour market recovery has taken a step backward and we expect claims to remain elevated with the risk that they rise from last week’s levels,” Nancy Vanden Houten, the lead US economist at Oxford Economics, said.
While the rate of labour-market recovery has slowed, case counts continue to surge across the country. The US reported a record 219,090 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Current hospitalizations reached 130,383, and the number of known virus-related deaths climbed above 375,000.
Recently published data detailing the labour market in November also offers a bleak look at the country’s rebound. US job openings fell by 105,000 to 6.5 million in November, according to Job Openings and Labour Turnover, or JOLTS, survey data published Tuesday.
The US hiring rate held steady at 4.2%, coming in just above levels seen before the pandemic despite more than 10 million Americans remaining unemployed.