Unemployment claims rose unexpectedly last week as states reintroduced coronavirus restrictions as lawmakers struggled to enforce new government aid, according to a Labor Department report on Thursday.

The number of first-time applicants for unemployment benefits was 885,000 for the week ended December 12, the highest since the week of September 5. The economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected a drop in initial applications to 808,000.

The first applications of the previous week were increased by 9,000 to 862,000.

A total of 20.6 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits as of Nov. 28, the report said.

These numbers “really underscore the fragility of the labor market, especially now with the coronavirus re-emerging for the second time [is] This led to further business closings and additional job losses, “said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel, to CNBC’s” Squawk Box “.

The recent surge in weekly jobless claims is due to coronavirus cases increasing across the country.

According to the Johns Hopkins University, more than 247,000 new infections and more than 3,600 deaths related to Covid have been confirmed in the United States. Data from the Atlantic’s COVID tracking project showed 113,000 people have been hospitalized with the virus.

Congress, meanwhile, is trying to get new laws through to help individuals and businesses before the end of the year.

The leaders of Congress on Wednesday finalized a $ 900 billion package that would include direct payments to individuals. However, a measure would exclude corporate liability protection and support to state and local governments.

Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis as well as live business day programs from around the world.