Jobless claims rose to near 1 million last week, their highest level since August, as the pandemic continues to spur companies to shed workers.
The Labor Department reported Wednesday that 965,000 Americans filled for for first-time jobless benefits in the week ended Jan. 9, up from a revised 787,000 claims the week earlier. Economists had expected claims of 811,500.
The numbers, the last set to be released under outgoing and now twice-impeached U.S. President Donald Trump, reflect a labor market struggling under the weight of an economy shredded by the coronavirus and still gasping for stimulus and support.
Despite the dismal weekly figures, economists and market watchers are optimistic that things will turn around. Washington's recently approved stimulus package, which is hoped to spark another round of hirings, is widely expected to be augmented by another $1 trillion-plus package put forward by President-elect Joe Biden.
The key question is how soon the economy and in turn the labor market will respond.
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