Jobless claims rose for the second straight week, to 778,000, a sign the nationwide surge in virus cases was starting to weigh on the labor-market recovery.
Claims haven’t risen for two consecutive weeks since July. Worker filings for unemployment insurance are down sharply from a peak of nearly seven million in late March. But they remain higher than in any previous recession—the pre-pandemic peak was 695,000 in 1982—for records tracing back to 1967.
Unemployment filings can be more volatile around the holidays, due to workweek changes that can cause seasonal-adjustment anomalies. The four-week moving average, which smooths out weekly variation, increased by 5,000 to 748,500, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
A nationwide surge in Covid-19 cases threatens to weigh on the economic recovery, as many states and localities impose new restrictions on businesses, though less stringent than the ones introduced in the spring, economists say. Further, the spread of the virus, combined with the onset of winter, is likely to send more consumers indoors and hamper spending and employment in industries like restaurants.
And the $600 a week unemployment subsidy has ended, and extended claims and support for unemployed gig economy workers, will be terminated with the new year.
This won’t end well.