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New jobless claims decline but stay high at 900,000

The number of Americans filing new jobless claims has declined, but still remained high.

The Labor Department said Thursday another 900,000 Americans filed new jobless claims last week, down 26,000 from the revised level of the previous week. This was a bit better than expected, as economists were anticipating a total of 925,000 claims, CNBC reports.

Still, the number continues to remain well above the record for most claims in one week prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 695,000, as well as higher than a few weeks ago.

But last week, the number of new claims surged by 181,000 in the worst week since August. That came after the latest jobs report showed the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December amid increasing COVID-19 cases, which was the first monthly jobs loss since April. Thursday’s number was reported on the first full day for President Biden, who The Washington Post notes “inherits one of the worst job markets of any president.”

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“Both the magnitude and direction of the total initial claims remain a problem, with no substantial improvement since late summer,” Indeed Hiring Lab economist AnnElizabeth Konkel said, per NBC News. “Millions are exhausting one unemployment program and rolling onto another in real time, underscoring that the coronavirus is still actively damaging large swaths of the economy.”