Is the Jobs Market Finally Beginning to Turn the Corner?

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Jobless claims dipped below 800,000 for the first time since November last week in a sign the labor market may be starting to recover from the onslaught of the pandemic and mass business closures and layoffs.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 779,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits in the week ended Jan. 30 down from a revised 812,000 claims the week earlier. Economists polled by FactSet had expected claims of 865,000.

Continuing claims, which are the number of people not just filing but staying on unemployment benefits, came in at 4.592 million for the week ended Jan. 23, down from the previous week's revised 4.785 million, the Labor Department said.

Cold weather, a surge in Covid-19 infections and the threat of new, highly contagious variants of the virus have contributed to a broader winter slowdown that has kept businesses from not only hiring new workers but keeping workers on the job.

Still, economists and market-watchers are hopeful that things may be turning around. Washington's most recent $900 billion stimulus package has already been released, and Democrats are readying to approve President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion in additional stimulus. 

A more comprehensive snapshot of the U.S. employment landscape will come Friday. Economists currently expect 100,000 jobs were added to the economy in January, with the unemployment rate holding at 6.7%.

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