The number of new unemployment claims filed each week has remained above the pre-pandemic record of 695,000 since coronavirus cases starting rising in March. Jobless claims have also risen in recent weeks.
Economists have cautioned about reading too deeply into the weekly fluctuations of the statistic, noting that issues with data processing and duplicate claims have at times inflated the numbers.
Still, the benchmark paints a dire portrait. Weekly jobless claims are now near what they were at the beginning of September. It’s the 44th straight week that initial claims remain higher than the worst week of the Great Recession.
Biden inherits one of the worst job markets of any modern president, with the country’s unemployment rate at 6.7 percent and nearly 10 million fewer people with jobs than at the beginning of last year, as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on industries like tourism, hospitality and food service.
Biden is calling for a $1.9 trillion stimulus measure that would extend unemployment payments and benefits beyond March, give out $1,400 checks and provide hundreds of millions of dollars to small businesses as well as state and local governments that are struggling.