US workers file 742,000 new jobless claims as COVID-19 surge continues

November 19, 2020 

Some 742,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as a surge in coronavirus infections threatened to shut down businesses again, the feds said Thursday.

The latest batch of initial jobless claims brought the seasonally adjusted total filed during the coronavirus pandemic to roughly 68.1 million — equivalent to more than 42 percent of the nation’s workforce.

The first increase in new jobless filings in about a month came as some cities and states imposed new lockdown measures to combat the record-setting resurgence of COVID-19. Last week’s total from the US Department of Labor came in well above economists’ expectations for 705,000 claims, according to Wrightson ICAP.

“Finding a job could be challenging as a number of states reimpose virus-related restrictions,” Bloomberg economist Eliza Winger said in a commentary. “Businesses could face more near-term disruptions and lower demand due to the lapse in fiscal aid and a reduction in consumer incomes.”

Last week was the 35th consecutive week in which new jobless claims have remained above the pre-pandemic record of 695,000 as well as the Great Recession’s weekly peak of 665,000.

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