Weekly claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week for there first time since early October, suggesting employers continue to proceed with caution amid soaring Covid-19 infections and related deaths.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that 742,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits in the week ended Nov. 14, up from a revised 711,000 claims the week earlier. Economists polled by FactSet had been expecting claims of 700,000.
Continuing claims, which are the number of people not just filing but staying on unemployment benefits, came in at 6.372 million for the week ended Nov. 7, down from a revised 6.801 million the previous week, the Labor Department said.
U.S. coronavirus infections crossed the 250,000 mark this week as a surge in new cases has overwhelmed hospitals in almost every state, prompting many city and state lawmakers to curb non-essential activities including dining and other indoor activities that employ people.
Some of the recent drops in continuing claims represent individuals who have exhausted the maximum duration of payments available through regular state programs and are now collecting money through a federal program that provides an extra 13 weeks of benefits.
Some 8.682 million Americans were claiming Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits through Oct. 31, while 4.377 million individuals were claiming Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits, the Labor Department said.