The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 719,000 last week, even as the economy continues to slowly recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented an increase in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending March 20, when 658,000 new jobless claims were reported. That number was revised down from the 684,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.
Roughly 18.2 million Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits, according to the report.
Economists expected Thursday’s jobless claims number to come in at 675,000, The Wall Street Journal reported. New jobless claims fell below 1 million in the first week of August, which was the first time the weekly claims had fallen below 1 million since March.
“If we can really get the virus under control, then we would expect to continue strong payrolls and at least one, if not two, really strong months of upside,” Constance Hunter, chief economist at KPMG, told the WSJ.
The U.S. added 379,000 jobs in February, a positive sign that the economy is recovering, according to Department of Labor data. The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December, the first jobs loss since April, and gained a modest 49,000 jobs in January.
The economy shrank 3.5% in 2020, according to a Jan. 28 Bureau of Economic Analysis report, the worst performance since the 1940s. However, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development projected that U.S. gross domestic product would surge 6.5% in 2021.
President Joe Biden announced his $2.3 trillion infrastructure package in Pennsylvania Wednesday. The White House said the plan will create millions of “good jobs” and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
“President Biden’s American Jobs Plan is a historic investment in the working people of America,” Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “It will create millions of good paying, family sustaining jobs that rebuild the middle class by empowering our workers to build America’s future.”
Jobless claims hovered around 200,000 per week before the pandemic, according to The WSJ.
Average coronavirus cases and deaths per million have declined in the last two months, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Wednesday, the U.S. reported 807 new coronavirus-related deaths and 62,726 new cases.
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