Initial unemployment insurance claims rose to 965,000 last week on signs of a slowdown in hiring due to pandemic restrictions, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The total was worse than Wall Street’s estimate of 800,000 and above the previous week’s total of 784,000.
Markets reacted little to the number as the slowdown in economic activity is expected to receive more impetus from Washington. President-elect Joe Biden later announced his hopes for another package that is expected to be worth more than $ 1 trillion later Thursday.
Futures prices continued to show fractional opening gains on Wall Street.
Still, the number of unemployed for the week ending January 9 was another sign of economic turmoil caused by restrictions on activities to combat the pandemic. The total was the highest since the week of August 22, when just over 1 million claims were filed.
The ongoing claims were also higher, increasing 199,000 to 5.27 million. This number is a week behind the weekly loss amount and has increased for the first time since late November.
The total number of those receiving government benefits fell sharply despite the increase in weekly numbers. That level fell from 19.2 million the previous week to 18.4 million. The data are two weeks behind the weekly damage amount. The decrease is mainly due to a decrease in emergency filing requests, but it remains well above the 2.18 million who received benefits a year earlier.
The surge in claims was spread across a handful of states, especially those with stricter restrictions on businesses.
Illinois, where Chicago has put pressure on restaurants, jumped 51,280 according to unadjusted data. Other big winners were California, which doesn’t even allow outdoor dining, and its damage numbers rose by 20,587, a 13% increase. New York rose 15,559.
However, some countries with relatively loose restrictions also recorded noticeable increases. Florida more than doubled its claims to 50,747 while Texas saw an increase of 14,282.
Recently, there have been signs that the job gains that began in May have been cooling off.
In December, non-farm wages and salaries fell for the first time during the recovery from lows in the Covid market, declining 140,000 while the unemployment rate was 6.7%.
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that business contacts in the central bank’s 12 districts reported a decline in recruitment and difficulty filling positions. Economists generally view the economy as slow in 2021 but gain momentum as the year progresses and the Covid-19 vaccine spreads.