Coronavirus pandemic is hitting hard on the U.S. job market. Jobless claims rose last week: the number of first-time unemployment-benefits filers totaled 885,000 in the week ending Dec. 12, the most since the week of Sept. 5. The figures, which are adjusted for seasonal factors and reported by the Labor Department, are particularly grim since last week’s numbers were revised up to 862,000. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected initial claims to fall to 808,000. In all, 20.6 million Americans were receiving some kind of unemployment benefits through Nov. 28.
The recent uptick in weekly jobless claims comes as coronavirus cases surge across the country. More than 247,000 new infections were confirmed in the U.S. along with more than 3,600 Covid-related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. However, when considering the number of deaths in relation to population, the U.S. is not even in the top 10 in the world.
Congressional leaders on Wednesday closed in on an 11th-hour stimulus package, just days before many of the existing coronavirus relief measures expire on Jan. 1, 2021.The new bill is expected to include a second round of direct payments of around $600, $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits and $325 billion in aid for small businesses. It leaves out the Democrats’ previous demand for state and local aid, as well as a Republican-backed shield that would protect businesses from COVID-related liability lawsuits.