The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 965,000 last week as the economy continued to suffer the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) figure released Thursday represented an increase in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Jan. 9, in which there were 787,000 new jobless claims reported. Roughly 18.4 million Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits, according to the BLS report Thursday.
Economists expected Thursday’s jobless claims number to come in around 800,000, The Wall Street Journal reported. New jobless claims fell below 1 million in the first week of August, which was the first time the weekly claims had fallen below 1 million since March.
“It’s not a pretty picture,” Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist for S&P Global Ratings, told The WSJ. “We’re stuck at a level that’s four times where it should be.”
Investors have focused on the passage of the coronavirus relief bill, according to CNBC. At the end of December, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion stimulus package, which included direct payments of $600 and $320 billion in small business support.
The stock market has rallied at record levels since Georgia Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican incumbents Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on Jan. 5, according to CNBC.
In a sign of slowing economic recovery, the U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December, marking the first jobs loss since April, according to the Department of Labor data released Dec. 4. U.S. retail sales plummeted by 1.1% in November even as holiday shopping began, a Department of Commerce report showed Dec. 16.
Average coronavirus cases and deaths per million have stayed elevated for months, according to The COVID Tracking Project. On Wednesday, the U.S. reported 4,022 new coronavirus-related deaths and 219,090 new cases while 130,383 Americans remained hospitalized from the virus.
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