The number of Americans who submitted their applications for the first time Unemployment benefits It remained elevated last week with an increase in Covid-19 New infections and restrictions to help limit the spread of the virus have affected the labor market recovery.
Figures released Thursday by the Labor Department show that 900,000 Americans filed for job benefits for the first time in the week ending January 16, which is slightly less than the 910,000 that Refinitiv economists had predicted.
The number is nearly four times the pre-crisis level but far below the peak of nearly 7 million reached when stay-at-home orders were first issued in March. Nearly 70 million Americans, or about 40% of the workforce, have applied for unemployment benefits during the pandemic.
The number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits fell to 5.054 million, down around 127,000 from the previous week. The report shows that approximately 15.99 million Americans were receiving some type of unemployment benefit as of January 2.
Many Americans receive unemployment aid from two federal programs established by Congress with the passage of the CARES Act in March: one provides assistance to individuals who are self-employed and temporary workers and others who are not normally entitled to receive benefits, and the other provides assistance to those who have exhausted state benefits.
“The current wave of the epidemic does not seem to be abating yet, and the possibility of the emergence of new, more transmissible variables, increases the risk of a prolonged third wave,” said Daniel Zhao, chief economist at Glassdoor. “While the vaccine shines a light at the end of the tunnel, we are still a long way from a full re-opening of the economy that could lead to re-employment and halt further layoffs.”
The federal government renewed those programs at the end of December with the passage of a $ 900 billion relief bill, which includes an additional $ 300 per week jobless benefit, a $ 600 one-off incentive check for most adults and a new funding for small business bailout program.
The relief package was seen by top Democrats as the tip of the iceberg, and President Biden, who opened on Wednesday, unveiled a $ 1.9 trillion stimulus plan that includes $ 20 billion for vaccine distributions, and extended unemployment benefits of $ 400 a week through September and III. $ 1,400 incentive check.