US weekly jobless aid filings drop to 847,000

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell but remained at a historically high 847,000 last week, a sign that layoffs keep coming as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage.

Last week’s claims dropped by 67,000, from 914,000 the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday. Before the virus hit the United States hard last March, weekly applications for jobless aid had never topped 700,000.

Tempering last week’s bigger-than-expected drop in claims: The four-week moving average — which smooths out week to week gyrations — rose by more than 16,000 last week to 868,000, highest since September.

Overall, nearly 4.8 million Americans received traditional state unemployment benefits the week of January 16. That is down from nearly 5 million the week before and far below a staggering peak of nearly 25 million in May when the virus brought economic activity to a near halt. The drop suggests that some of the unemployed are finding new jobs and that others have exhausted state benefits.

Since February, the United States has lost 9.8 million jobs, including 140,000 in December.

Americans who lost work because of the pandemic can get aid from extended relief programs, which now offer up to 50 weeks of benefits, or from a new program that targets contractors and the self-employed. Altogether, 18.3 million people were receiving some type of unemployment benefit the week that ended January 9, the latest period for which data is available.-AP