The number of Americans seeking first-time jobless aid dipped last week, with layoffs continuing at historically high levels. Some 779,000 people applied for unemployment assistance in the week ended January 30, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s a drop of 33,000 from the previous week’s figure and the lowest single-week number since late November.
Another 348,000 applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for self-employed and gig workers. Altogether, 1.1 million people filed for some sort of jobless assistance.
“While it appears that the worst of the pandemic layoffs may be behind us, the damage done to the jobs market will last for months, if not years,” Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, said in a note.
18 million collecting benefits
As of mid-January, nearly 18 million people, or 1 in 9 workers, were receiving jobless benefits. While the number of first-time jobless applications has fallen steadily for several weeks, the number of Americans collecting extended benefits, a last stop for those who have exhausted other benefits, rose nearly 200,000.
“The rise is particularly concerning since fewer than half the states are providing these benefits,” Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics said in note.
“Additional fiscal stimulus and broader vaccine diffusion will put the labor market on a better footing around mid-year, but in the near term, we expect jobless claims to remain elevated by historical standards as the pandemic continues to restrict activity,” she added.
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