USA unemployment claims remain high as Biden tackles pandemic

USA unemployment claims remain high as Biden tackles pandemic

Close to another 1 million US workers have filed for new unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said in its weekly report Thursday - slightly fewer than experts anticipated.

Economists had been expecting a significant reduction in seasonally adjusted claims in the week ended January 16, but instead they fell just 26,000 from the prior week's downwardly revised total, underscoring the damage done by the pandemic's renewed onslaught in the country.

The baseline week of late had been the filing week ending December 26, which had seen unadjusted initial claims in Virginia at 11,890.

The latest BLS report also showed that the number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits in the week ending January 9 decreased by 127,000 to 5 million. The Trump administration did not specify whether unemployed people can refuse a job with unsafe conditions and still qualify for unemployment, instead leaving the decision to state governments.

Tom Dougherty, chief labor market economist for the state labor department, said that he expected to see the labor force grow again as the pandemic's effects subside, especially considering DE touched an all-time high workforce just five months ago. Such spending should, in theory, boost hiring and start to regain the almost 10 million jobs lost to the pandemic. That was up from a 2 percent year-over-year increase before the stimulus payments, Bank of America said. Retail sales have fallen for three straight months. Revenue at restaurants and bars plunged 21% in 2020.

After six months of decreases, DE saw its unemployment rate rise slightly in December, moving to 5.3% from 5.1% in November, according to state officials.

Congress provided a temporary extension of unemployment aid as part of a $900 billion relief bill passed last month.

Last week, Biden released details of his $1.9 trillion economic relief plan. Total card spending jumped 9.7% for the week that ended January 9 compared with a year earlier. The second phase also includes people who ran out of PUA or PEUC benefits prior to the week of December 27 - meaning they had already used the maximum number of weeks before the programs themselves expired.

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