World|U.S. unemployment claims jump sharply, showing the pandemicâs continuing economic toll.
New claims for state unemployment benefits in the United States sharply increased last week as the pandemic continued to batter the economy.
A total of 1.15 million workers filed initial claims for state unemployment benefits during the first full week of the new year, the Labor Department said. Another 284,000 claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency federal program for freelancers, part-time workers and others usually ineligible for state jobless benefits. Neither figure is seasonally adjusted. On a seasonally adjusted basis, new state claims totaled 965,000.
Economists had been bracing for a fresh wave of claims as the coronavirus batters the service industry. The government reported last week that the economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, the first drop in employment since last springâs steep losses, with restaurants, bars and hotels recording steep losses.
âWe know that the pandemic is worsening, and with the jobs report last Friday, we can see that weâre in a deep economic hole and digging in the wrong direction,â said Daniel Zhao, a senior economist with the career site Glassdoor.
The labor market has rebounded somewhat since the initial coronavirus wave in the spring. But of the 22 million jobs that disappeared, nearly 10 million remain lost.
âCompared to then, we are doing better,â said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the career site Indeed, referring to the spring. âBut compared to the pre-Covid era, we still have so far to go.â
Still, economists and analysts see better times ahead. As more people are vaccinated, cases will begin to fall, which will ease restrictions on businesses and could lead to a resurgence in consumer activity, helping to revive the service industry.
Perhaps more immediately, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to push a stimulus package through Congress that would provide relief to individuals, small businesses, students, schools and local governments.
Originally posted on https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/world/us-unemployment-claims-jump-sharply-showing-the-pandemics-continuing-economic-toll.html