Jobless Claims Still Hovering Near 1 Million as Biden Takes Office

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Jobless claims hovered 1 million for a second straight week last week as the post-holidays labor market continued to retrench amid a resurgence in pandemic-related infections and deaths.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 900,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits in the week ended Jan. 16 vs. a downward revised 926,000 claims the week earlier. Economists polled by FactSet had expected claims of 887,500.

Continuing claims, which are the number of people not just filing but staying on unemployment benefits, came in at 5.054 million for the week ended Jan. 9, down from the previous week's revised 5.181 million, the Labor Department said.

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 package put forward by President Joe Biden.

Separately, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday that U.S. home builders started construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.67 million in December, representing a 5.8% increase from the previous month.

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