Jobless Claims Hold Above 800,000 as Pandemic Slams Hiring

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The jobs market is finishing up 2020 in pretty rough shape.

Jobless claims retreated from a three-month high last week though still held above 800,000 as businesses continued to scale back their ranks amid an ongoing surge in Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that 803,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits in the week ended Dec. 19, up from a revised 892,000 claims the week earlier. Economists had expected claims of 880,000.

Continuing claims, which are the number of people not just filing but staying on unemployment benefits, came in at 5.337 million for the week ended Dec. 12, down from an upwardly revised 5.507 million the previous week, the Labor Department said.

Many Americans have stopped collecting regular jobless benefits and have switched to collecting pandemic-related assistance. On that front, some 9.247 million Americans claimed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits through Dec. 5, while 4.79 million individuals claimed Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits.

At the same time, Congress's $900 billion aid package that would allow those programs to continue was cast in doubt on Wednesday after President Donald Trump called the stimulus bill a "disgrace" and urged that lawmakers boost the stimulus checks due to most Americans to $2,000 from $600.

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