US unemployment claims jump to 965,000 as virus takes toll
Manufacturing, construction, and professional services like engineering and architecture, all added jobs in December though.
The number of people seeking unemployment aid soared last week to 965,000, the most since late August and a sign that the resurgent virus has likely escalated layoffs.
The latest figures for jobless claims, issued on Jan. 14 by the Labor Department, remain at levels never seen until the virus struck. Before the pandemic, weekly applications typically numbered around 225,000. They spiked to nearly 7 million last spring, after nationwide shutdowns took effect. Applications declined over the summer but have been stuck above 700,000 since September.
The high pace of layoffs coincides with an economy that has faltered as consumers have avoided travelling, shopping and eating out in the face of soaring viral caseloads. More than 4,300 deaths were reported on Jan. 12, another record high. Shutdowns of restaurants, bars and other venues where people gather in California, New York and other states have likely forced up layoffs.
Economists say that once coronavirus vaccines are more widely distributed, a broader recovery should take hold in the second half of the year. The incoming Biden administration, along with a now fully Democratic-led House and Senate, is also expected to push more rescue aid and spending measures that could accelerate growth.
Yet many analysts also worry that with millions of Americans still unemployed and as many as one in six small companies going out of business, people who have been hurt most by the downturn won’t likely benefit from a recovery anytime soon.
Many large industries, though, reported job gains. Many economists had expected last spring that job losses would spread to more industries. Though all sectors of the economy initially laid off workers, most of them have avoided deep job cuts. Manufacturing, construction, and professional services like engineering and architecture, for example, all added jobs in December.
Job losses have also fallen disproportionately on women, who are more likely to work in the affected industries. They are also more likely to have quit jobs to stay home and care for children, many of whom are engaged in online schooling.