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The number of American workers seeking state unemployment benefits last week blew by expectations to 965,000, a figure not seen since August 2020 and a historically high amount that points to a labor market plagued by the pandemic.
The Labor Department said in a Jan. 14 report (pdf) that the number of people who filed initial state benefit claims last week grew by 181,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 784,000. Economists polled by Reuters predicted the jobless claims number would tick up slightly to 795,000; the Labor Department’s report sent a ripple of surprise across the desks of experts.
“The rise and level of new unemployment claims is shocking, at the highest point seen since late August,” Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times.
“This reminds us that the economic crisis has not gone away, far from it, at a time when multiple crises have been vying for our attention. It hasn’t helped that administration of COVID-19 vaccines has been slow to gather momentum since the pandemic is at the epicenter of the economy’s ills,” he added.
The renewed surge in virus cases has caused millions of consumers to avoid traveling, shopping, and eating out. States, meanwhile, have imposed new restrictions on restaurants, bars, and other businesses. These dynamics likely pressured businesses to slash jobs. Read more…