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New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, indicating a modest improvement during the holiday season, which was clouded by uncertainty about future benefit changes.

During the week ending on the 26th. At the end of December, initial claims for unemployment benefits under regular government programs – an indicator of layoffs – fell from 19,000 to 787,000 in seasonal terms, the Labor Department said Thursday. This is the second consecutive fall from the three-month record set in December, when the number of virus cases increased and more jurisdictions imposed economic restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Last week’s level is still higher than all levels recorded earlier this year, although it is well below the peak of nearly 7 million people reached at the end of March. The fortnightly average of claims, flattening the volatile data, reached its highest level since the beginning of October.

At the beginning of last week, Congress passed a $900 billion rescue package. The Commission was informed that a total amount of USD 300 000 had been allocated under the Covid-19 programme, inter alia, to extend the Covid-19 programme by USD 300 000. The government has also extended the two pandemic programmes, which benefit about 13 million people, to $1.5 billion a week for those receiving unemployment benefits. But then the president

Assets

stated that he was not satisfied with the bill and doubted whether he would sign it. He finally signed the measure on the 27th. December.

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The first weekly applications for unemployment benefits may also be volatile during the holiday period due to seasonal adjustments.

According to an Oxford University economist, the noise of the holidays and uncertainty over the extension of benefits last week may have dampened claims.

Nancy VandenHouten

I said. Demand remains at historically high levels, she said, and there is a risk that it will increase in the coming weeks as a result of programme expansion and additional payments.

Although the outlook for the economy in 2021 is optimistic, the economy and the labour market will occasionally face a number of challenges, according to Vanden Houten. She said the high rate of reported cases and hospitalizations for Covid-19, as well as the discovery of new variants of the disease that appear to be more contagious, are likely to delay recovery until the vaccines are more readily available.

Other signs suggest that the overall economic recovery may slow down. Household spending fell by 0.4% in November, the first decline in seven months, and household income fell by 1.1%, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Sales of new and existing homes fell in November compared to the previous month.

Many economists estimate that economic growth slowed down in the last months of 2020, but the economy is expected to pick up again next year thanks to a wider distribution of vaccines and the fact that many households will receive a second round of stimulus cheques under the Covid 19 help account.

According to the Ministry of Labour, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits under regular government programmes fell to 5.2 million in the week ending 19 December, down from 5.3 million in the previous week. This is lower than the May peak of 25.9 million, but still three times the pre-pandemic level. This decline is probably due to the fact that some unemployed people have found work, while others have exhausted their benefits.

The new aid law increases unemployment benefits in each state by $300. The agency has postponed two federal pandemic programs that would otherwise have paid out their last benefits this month by a week, until the 14th. Extended Mars.

One programme provides benefits for the self-employed, while others are generally not eligible for unemployment benefits. In the week ending on the 12th. At the end of December, the number of current applications for the programme fell by more than 800,000 to 8.5 million, according to the Ministry of Labour. The number of claims under another programme, which provides for up to 13 weeks of additional payments for those who have exhausted other benefits, was around 4.8 million over the same period. The data from the pandemic program are not seasonal.

Both programmes have been extended until mid-March.

Many people are still long-term unemployed.

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An online survey by Harris Poll commissioned by the recruitment firm Express Employment Professionals found that 65 percent of unemployed adults become more discouraged when they are out of work. On average, the unemployed adults interviewed had applied for 11 jobs in the previous month, but had only had one interview, according to a survey conducted in the second half of October and published this month.

John Trader says he moved into his younger brother’s house in Atlanta after losing his job as a merchant in July. He said he sent hundreds of resumes and talked to a dozen different companies before he left on the 18th. December got a job offer from a software company.

The work is also unpaid, but Mr. Trader, 50 years old, said he was happy to have his job back.

I can’t even describe how frustrating it was, Mr. Trader said of his job search. In one case, he said he had participated in four interviews and had spent 30 hours preparing a project to show a potential employer what work he could do. He applied six times for another job, but found out that the company had finally decided not to hire anyone.

The recovery of the labour market since the spring has not been equally strong in all sectors. Restaurants and shops in shopping centres have declined sharply compared to last year, while others have surpassed the pre-pandemic level.

Mike Stanziola,

The senior vice president of IT operations at firstPRO Inc, a Philadelphia-based recruitment firm, said December was the best month for its division this year as more and more companies are looking for IT professionals for projects they had previously postponed because of the pandemic.

Some people are still reluctant to hire them full-time, but the work is in full swing, so they hire them as contractors, Stanziola said. Confidence in hiring full-time employees is also starting to grow, he said, but it’s still difficult to hire technology professionals because job losses in the sector have not been so great.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many Americans to face new financial realities. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday traveled to a diverse neighborhood in Philadelphia to learn how different neighbors are fighting the same virus. Photo: Adam Falk/ Wall Street Journal

Email Kim Macrael at [email protected]

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