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Another 787,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

The jobs recovery has run out of steam as the pandemic continues to spread across the country and world. Last week, another 787,000 Americans filed for unemp...

Posted: Jan 7, 2021 12:13 PM

The jobs recovery has run out of steam as the pandemic continues to spread across the country and world. Last week, another 787,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits, adjusted for seasonal changes, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

It was a slight decrease in claims from the prior week and marginally fewer than economists had expected. But that might be more noise than reality.

"Claims can be volatile around the holidays, so it may be a few weeks before the pattern becomes clear," said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC.

Here's what we do know: America's jobs crisis isn't over.

Last week's initial claims were still nearly four times as higher as in the same period a year ago.

On top of regular first-time claims, 161,460 workers filed for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, without seasonal adjustments. The program is designed to help those who aren't eligible for regular state aid, such as the self-employed. It was a sharp decline from the prior week as various states, including Florida, didn't report any PUA claims. This could mean a higher reported number or revision in next week's report.

The PUA program was introduced under last spring's CARES Act and was slated to expire at the end of 2020. The new stimulus bill that was signed into law last week extends the program by 11 weeks.

While workers can file claims and will receive payments under the extension, there may be a delay in receiving the benefits as it typically takes states a few weeks to reprogram their computers. But some states are moving quickly.

Adding up the different kinds of first-time claims, 1.1 million Americans filed for jobless benefits without seasonal adjustments.

Meanwhile, 5.1 million filed for continued benefits, claiming assistance for their second week or more, in the week ending December 26, a slight decrease from the week before.

In total, 19.2 million people received some form of government benefits in the week ending December 19.

"While prospects for the economy later in 2021 are upbeat, the economy and labor market will have to navigate some difficult terrain between now and then, and we expect claims to remain elevated," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead US Economist at Oxford Economics.

Friday's jobs report is expected to show the first uptick in the unemployment rate since April. Economists polled by Refinitiv predict that while 71,000 new jobs were added in December, the jobless rate rose to 6.8%.

--Tami Luhby contributed to this story.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708067

Reported Deaths: 13224
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion964881721
Lake51704945
Allen39185672
Hamilton34497405
St. Joseph34075540
Elkhart27306432
Vanderburgh22077394
Tippecanoe21818212
Porter17940299
Johnson17526374
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Clark12688190
Madison12350337
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Delaware10356184
Howard9662211
Kosciusko9127114
Hancock7979139
Bartholomew7888155
Warrick7684155
Floyd7560176
Wayne6899198
Grant6842171
Boone6552100
Morgan6395138
Dubois6084117
Marshall5783108
Dearborn570076
Cass5684102
Henry5577100
Noble542483
Jackson493269
Shelby479095
Lawrence4342118
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Harrison428170
Clinton419053
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DeKalb410984
Whitley379639
Huntington379480
Miami372565
Knox366389
Steuben365257
Putnam352660
Jasper350546
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Adams337952
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308354
Daviess289299
Wells286381
Decatur278992
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268833
Scott261153
Clay253444
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Washington230931
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