Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

New jobless claims unexpectedly decline for 2nd week in a row

The number of Americans filing new jobless claims has again declined unexpectedly while remaining historically high.

The Labor Department on Thursday said 787,000 Americans filed new jobless claims last week, down 19,000 from the revised level of the week before. This was the second consecutive week that the number of new jobless claims declined unexpectedly, as economists were anticipating the number of claims would climb to 828,000, CNBC reports. Bloomberg notes, however, that the "figures are often volatile around holidays."

Last week, the Labor Department had reported 803,000 new jobless claims, down from 892,000 the previous week. Still, both last week and this week's numbers remain higher than the record number of weekly claims prior to the coronavirus pandemic, 695,000, and The Associated Press notes the latest number of claims is still almost four times higher than at this point a year ago.

"Holiday noise and uncertainty about extensions of benefits may have held down claims last week," Oxford Economics economist Nancy Vanden Houten said, per The Wall Street Journal. "While prospects for the economy later in 2021 are upbeat, the economy and labor market will have to navigate some difficult terrain between now and then."