Unemployment Claims Spike Again in the Final Weeks of Trump Term

Unemployment claims have spiked again.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports that unemployment claims in the first full week of January spiked to a seasonally adjusted 965,000, Additionally, non-adjusted claims rose to 1.2 million and the number receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) rose to 284,500.

“This is bad news for the economy heading into 2021,” said Cailin Birch, global economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit. “The fact that benefits claims are increasing suggests that the economy may lose jobs again in January, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge, weighing heavily on businesses.”

The increase in claims could be attributed to Congress extending unemployment benefits past their expiration following a highly partisan battle last month that nearly resulted in Covid-19 relief being scuttled when President Donald Trump refused to sign a bipartisan spending bill.

The report comes after new data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that that the United States economy lost 140,000 jobs in December and that women accounted for all job losses. The unemployment rate currently stands at 6.7%––the first time in seven months the unemployment rate has not improved.

President-elect Joe Biden‘s coronavirus economic relief package is expected to cost trillions of dollars and prioritizes $2,000 stimulus checks as well as more money for cities and states to boost their vaccine distribution and improve their pandemic response. The incoming administration is expected to reveal the details of its package next week, once Biden takes office.