New Unemployment Claims See Unexpected Increase

November 19, 2020

The number of workers filing initial claims for unemployment benefits was higher than expected last week. New jobless claims totaled 742,000 for the week, according to the Labor Department. That’s up from the 709,000 in the previous week, and more than the 710,000 economists had forecast.

Economists fear that the labor market’s gradual recovery from the pandemic could be upended by the recent surge in cases. New restrictions on businesses could force workplaces to close, or even in the absence of mandates, worried consumers who are reticent to shop or dine out could force layoffs. 

There was some good news in the week’s job data, however. The number of continuing claims saw a substantial drop, falling 429,000. That brings the total number of continuing claims to 6.37 million, the lowest level since the pandemic began.

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