US weekly unemployment numbers increase to 853,000

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FILE – In this July 18, 2020 file photo a closed sign hangs in the window of a barber shop in Burbank, Calif. A critical snapshot of the job market and the economy to be released Friday, Oct. 2, is expected to show a further deceleration in hiring as the nation’s viral caseload creeps higher just as financial aid from the government has faded. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The number of Americans filing for unemployment last week increased to 853,000, as Americans deal with a holiday season during a pandemic.

The latest report released by the Labor Department Thursday shows that the number of people filing for jobless benefits increased by 137,000 from the week before. The previous week showed a slight decline in the number of Americans filing for unemployment.

The number of initial claims increased and remained high. The number of people who are continuing to receive traditional unemployment benefits is now 5.75 million, marking an increase of 230,000 from the prior week. That figure is down sharply from its peak of nearly 23 million in May.

This comes as U.S. employers added a modest 245,000 jobs in November, as companies scaled back their hiring as the  pandemic accelerates across the country. It marked the fewest added jobs since April and the fifth straight monthly slowdown.

“Our fears of a significant economic toll taken by the explosion in the COVID-19 cases have now been matched by a spike in new claims for unemployment benefits,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate. “With the number of new claims alone, administered by the states, the increase of 137,000 takes total new claims back to a level last seen in mid-September.”

However, hopes increased as a vaccine for the virus nears. A FDA advisory panel was set to vote Thursday on whether the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine should be authorized.

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