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New Jobless Claims Increase To 885,000, Economists Expected 808,000

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The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 885,000 last week as the economy continued to suffer the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) figure released Thursday represented an increase of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Dec. 5, in which there were 853,000 new jobless claims reported. Roughly 20.6 million Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits, according to the BLS report Thursday.

Economists expected Thursday’s jobless claims number to come in around 808,000, 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. (RELATED: Economic Recovery Slows, US Adds Just 245,000 Jobs In November)

“The next few months will be pretty rough for the labor market as you do see businesses having to contend with this latest wave of Covid cases,” Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, told The WSJ. “You are seeing those government restrictions coming into play again.”

Members of small business owners take part in a 'Save Small Business' protest in Los Angeles, California on Dec. 12. (Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images)

Members of small business owners take part in a ‘Save Small Business’ protest in Los Angeles, California on Dec. 12. (Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images)

Investors, meanwhile, have focused on Capitol Hill negotiations on a potential coronavirus relief bill, according to CNBC. House and Senate lawmakers drew nearer to a deal on a $900 billion stimulus package Wednesday, Politico reported.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged at the end of November, surpassing 30,000 for the first time in the index’s history due to positive vaccine developments, according to CNBC. The U.S. economy surged by a record 33.1% in the third quarter. (RELATED: Dow Jones Stock Market Index Hits All-Time High, Surpasses 30,000)

However, in a sign of the economic recovery slowing, the U.S. added just 245,000 jobs in November, while unemployment fell to 6.7%, according to the Department of Labor data released Dec. 4. U.S. retail sales plummeted by 1.1% in November even as holiday shopping began, a Department of Commerce report showed Wednesday.

Jobless claims hovered around 200,000 per week before the pandemic, according to WSJ. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in March as coronavirus spread rapidly around the world.

Average coronavirus cases and deaths per million have been increasing steadily in the U.S. since mid-October, according to The COVID Tracking Project. On Wednesday, the U.S. reported 3,448 new coronavirus-related deaths and 232,258 new cases while 113,090 Americans remained hospitalized from the virus.

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