Weekly unemployment claims decline slightly in US as 787,000 seek aid

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The U.S. Capitol Building is seen past the Washington Monument as the sun rises on December 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — As 2020 draws to a close, jobless claims in the U.S. remain elevated after the Labor Department reported 787,000 people filed for benefits last week.

While employers continue to struggle under the coronavirus pandemic, the latest numbers reported Thursday show a slight decline of 19,000 from the previous week. Weekly unemployment figures last dipped below 800,000 at the beginning of this month.

“The 787,000 new unemployment claim filings were down from the week before but the 4-week moving average continues to trend higher,” said Greg McBridge, Bankrate‘s chief financial analyst. “Additionally, 308,000 claims were filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed, gig workers, and freelancers.”

Meanwhile, the number of people continuing to receive traditional unemployment benefits also declined by 103,000, to a total of more than 5.2 million.

The figures are released as Americans have begun receiving $600 coronavirus relief checks, while the prospect of increasing the amounts to $2,000 seems out of sight.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell on Wednesday said a Democratic bill to raise the stimulus check amounts — aid that President Donald Trump demanded — was unlikely to clear the Senate anytime soon.

The Senate majority leader said the bill “has no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate,” while his proposed alternative that includes other White House priorities appears destined to fail.

Senators are meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday.

As many get ready to ring in the new year, McBride warned that “elevated unemployment will be with us long after the virus is vanquished.”

“A year to forget will be anything but for the 19.5 million Americans collecting some form of unemployment compensation as of mid-December,” said “While the job market prospects for 2021 are brighter, it will take the first half of the year for that momentum to build.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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