Initial unemployment claims went up more than expected for the week that ended Jan. 9, the second jobless report of the new year after 2020 rang out with record-high numbers amid the global pandemic.
The U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday (Jan. 14) that the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid was up 965,000, an increase of 181,000 from the previous week’s revised level. Numbers from last week’s report were revised from 787,000 to 784,000, down 3,000.
New initial unemployment claims were anticipated to drop below 800,000 for the third consecutive week. New claims dropped below one million in late August, after hitting at a record of almost seven million in March. For 20 consecutive weeks in 2020, claims were above one million.
The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending Dec. 26 was 18.41 million, a decline of 744,511 from the previous week. By way of comparison, during the same week in 2019, there were 2.18 million weekly claims filed for benefits in all programs.
“Recent jobless claims data suggest December may mark the trough in recent labor market weakness, particularly with additional fiscal support in the pipeline,” Nomura Chief Economist Lewis Alexander said in a note, per Yahoo! Finance on Wednesday (Jan. 13). “However, significant downside risks for the labor market will persist until the pandemic comes more under control in the U.S.”
The first unemployment report of 2021 saw filings drop to 787,000. The $900 billion pandemic relief package extended both Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance until at least March.