US weekly jobless claims dip to 787,000, land below economist estimates

  • New US unemployment filings for the week that ended Saturday totaled 787,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, snapping a two-week streak of declines.
  • Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a reading of 800,000 claims. The total also lands just below the previous week’s revised total of 790,000.
  • Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, fell to 5.1 million for the week that ended December 26. The reading comes in below the consensus economist forecast of 5.2 million.
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The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance dipped slightly last week as the coronavirus’s economic fallout dragged the unemployment crisis into the new year.

New US jobless claims totaled an unadjusted 787,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected 800,000 claims. The reading snaps a two-week streak of declines and comes in slightly below the previous week’s revised total of 790,000.

Continuing claims, which track the aggregate total of Americans receiving unemployment benefits, declined to 5.1 million for the week that ended December 26. That came in below economist forecasts.

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Nearly 74 million filings for unemployment benefits have been made since the coronavirus pandemic first drove claims to historic highs in March. That’s roughly double the filings made during the 18-month Great Recession. Weekly totals continue to surpass the 665,000 filings seen during the previous downturn.

Though coronavirus vaccines continue to be distributed across the country, cases continue to rise and hinder a labor-market rebound. The US reported 243,346 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Deaths surpassed 352,000 and hospitalizations climbed to 132,476.

Other economic reports suggest the surge in cases and stricter lockdown measures had a marked effect on the pace of hiring. The US shed 123,000 private payrolls last month, according the monthly ADP employment report published Wednesday. The decline is the first since April and marks a sharp contrast from the 75,000 payroll additions expected by economists.

The government’s nonfarm payrolls report is expected to further detail December’s moderating pace of recovery on Friday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect a slim addition of 50,000 payrolls to close out 2020.

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