Thursday, March 4, 2021

US workers file 779,000 jobless claims as COVID-19 crisis total tops 77M

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American workers filed 779,000 applications for unemployment benefits last week in the latest sign that the labor market is still in the throes of its coronavirus crisis.

The newest batch of initial jobless claims brought the total for the COVID-19 pandemic to roughly 77.2 million — a number nearly twice as large as California’s population.

While last week’s filings came in below economists’ expectations for 830,000, the data suggest employers and workers are still under pressure from the virus even though the nation’s record-breaking case counts have started to decline.

“Some states are loosening restrictions and more Americans have now received at least one dose of vaccination than have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began,” Bloomberg economist Eliza Winger said in a commentary. “Still, job opportunities in sectors most adversely affected by the virus will remain scarce.”

Last week’s jobless filings marked a slight drop from the prior week’s revised total of 812,000, the US Department of Labor said Thursday.

But new claims have remained above the pre-pandemic record of 695,000 for 46 consecutive weeks even as the job market trudged back from an unprecedented downturn last spring.

Jobless claims spiked earlier in January amid a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths that spurred a new wave of lockdown measures and led the US economy to shed 140,000 jobs in December.

The jump may have also been driven by the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill Congress passed at the end of last year that boosted unemployment payments by $300 a week, experts have said.

The latest data came a day ahead of the feds’ closely watched jobs report for February. Economists expect the report to show payrolls adding 58,000 jobs, which would be a modest rebound from December’s loss, according to Wrightson ICAP.

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How much is a serving?

It Is not enough simply to know how many portions we will devour from each and every meals...

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