US initial unemployment claims fell by 26,000 to 900,000 last week, and the4-week moving average rose to 848,000 from 824500.
These are not good numbers by any measure:
About 900,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market struggles to recover this winter.
The number of jobless claims last week was down slightly from the week ended Jan. 9, when applications jumped by more than 100,000 to 926,000. The Labor Department said the increase for the Jan. 9 week—initially estimated as the largest weekly increase since March—was smaller than previously thought.
Jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, remain above the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000 and are higher than in any previous recession for records tracing back to 1967.
“Covid hasn’t let up, and it’s still creating massive amounts of economic havoc,” AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at jobs site Indeed, said.
As Covid-19 infections increased into the winter, states and localities imposed new capacity restrictions on businesses such as restaurants. Further, some consumers remain hesitant to eat indoors, travel or go to a movie theater, reducing demand at places that remain open.
Delayed filings by workers over the Christmas and New Year holidays, as well as $300 a week in extra jobless benefits included in a coronavirus-relief package signed into law last month, also could have factored into the large claims increase for the week ended Jan. 9. Still, the four-week moving average for claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, rose in the week ended Jan. 9.
Things are not going to get better until a larger stimulus is passed, and the pandemic recedes.