Last week, the number of Americans applying for first unemployment benefits jumped to its highest level since mid-August, the latest sign that the economic recovery is stalling amid a bout of COVID-19 infections nationwide.
Data released by the Department of Labor on Thursday show that in the week ending Jan. 9, 965,000 Americans filed for the first time an unemployment claim, exceeding Refinitiv’s economists ’forecast of 795,000.
That number is almost four times the pre-crisis level, but well below the nearly 7 million peak reached when residential orders were first issued in March. Nearly 70 million Americans, or about 40% of the workforce, applied for unemployment benefits during the pandemic.
“The growth and level of new unemployment claims is shocking, at its highest point since the end of August,” said Mark Hamrick, an economic analyst at Bankrate. “It reminds us that the economic crisis is not over, far from the time when several crises came to our attention.”
The number of people who continue to receive unemployment benefits rose to 5.27 million, an increase of around 199,000 from the previous week. The report shows that roughly 18.4 million Americans received some form of unemployment benefits by December 26th.
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The report provides fresh evidence that a record increase in coronavirus cases – the U.S. reported more than 4,200 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to 381,000 – and new closure measures are considering the labor market. A special report released last week shows that employers lost 140,000 jobs in December, the first loss since the early months of the pandemic.
Many more Americans receive unemployment benefits from two federal programs created by Congress with the adoption of the CARES Act in March: One extends support to the self-employed, concertmakers, and others who are not normally eligible for benefits, and the other to help those who have exhausted public benefits. their allowance.
The federal government renewed these programs in late December with the adoption of a $ 900 billion aid law that includes $ 300 a week in additional unemployment benefits, a one-time $ 600 incentive check for most adults, and new funding for a small business. rescue program.
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Top Democrats have seen the aid package as the tip of the iceberg, and President-elect Joe Biden is expected to unveil a stimulus plan of up to $ 1 trillion on Thursday night. It is not clear what specific provisions Biden will propose, but it is widely expected to push for an increase in stimulus controls from $ 600 to $ 2,000.
Other democratic priorities set by the soon-to-be-majority Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. recorded in a letter to his staff, money for the distribution of vaccines, small businesses, schools, and state and local governments.
“The depth and duration of the now 43-week downturn will require an additional budgetary response from elected officials in Washington,” Hamrick said.
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