The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly dipped last week while staying extremely high, with the labor market recovery appearing to stall as a raging COVID-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm the country
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 787,000 for the week ending in January 2nd. That's compared to 790,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal had forecast initial jobless claims to total 815,000. Another 161,460 applications were filed through a temporary federal-relief program, but that was barely half as many as in the prior week.
While positive news, the number remains extremely high and does not look to be lowering in the near-future, with the global pandemic gaining in strength and mutations, the US Capital building invaded by a mob of enraged, conspiracy-addled Trump supporters, and the president himself calling for more violence against the government he leads until January 20th.
Elevated claims are in line with other data that have suggested the economy was taking a beating from business restrictions and retrenchment in consumer spending because of the pandemic. Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s Dec. 15-16 meeting published on Wednesday showed policymakers expected soaring coronavirus cases “would be particularly challenging for the labor market in coming months.”
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