The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits for the first time rose more than expected last week, as the rise in new COVID-19 infections led to further restrictions on businesses, further evidence that the pandemic and the lack of fiscal stimulus hurt the economy.
Miami World / .
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 853,000 for the week through Dec. 5, up from 716,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists polled by . had expected the requests to reach 725,000.
The United States is going through a new wave of coronavirus infections, surpassing the 15 million mark on Tuesday. New strict stay-at-home orders took effect in California earlier this week, affecting about three-quarters of the nearly 40 million people in the nation’s most populous state.
Other states and local governments have also imposed restrictions on businesses, which economists hope will lead to a new round of layoffs during the winter, especially without additional money from the government to help amid the pandemic.
Agreement on another rescue package has yet to be reached. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress was still looking for a way forward.
More than $ 3 trillion injected by the government helped millions of unemployed Americans meet daily expenses and companies keep workers on payroll. But the fiscal stimulus has almost been exhausted.
Unemployment claims hit a record 6.867 million in March. They have remained above their peak of 665,000 during the Great Recession of 2007-09.
The anguish of the labor market keeps inflation contained. In a separate report on Thursday, the Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% in November after remaining unchanged in October.
In the 12 months through November, the CPI rose 1.2% after a similar gain in October. Economists polled by . had forecast the CPI to rise 0.1% in November and 1.1% year-on-year.