Weekly Unemployment Claims Underscore Stalled Recovery

Asian businesswoman experiencing stress at work

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The latest jobless numbers showed little improvement, with the number of people initiating claims for unemployment insurance hovering near 800,000 for yet another week.

There were 793,000 initial unemployment claims for the week through Feb. 6—17,000 fewer than the previous week, according to seasonally adjusted data released by the Department of Labor Thursday. The 4-week moving average, at 823,000, has been above 800,000 for nine straight weeks now—and is almost four times higher than a typical week before the COVID-19 pandemic. On the plus side, claims have declined slightly since early January.

The rebound in the U.S. labor market has all but stalled, with job growth in January barely moving the needle. There are still almost 10 million fewer jobs in the U.S. now than there were in February, before the COVID-19 outbreak. Economists say a broad rollout of COVID-19 vaccines will be key to resuming the recovery.