Weekly unemployment claims rise unexpectedly and reach their highest level in 2½ months

Unemployment claims rose unexpectedly last week as states reintroduced coronavirus restrictions as lawmakers struggle to push through new government support, according to a Labor Department report Thursday.

The number of first-time claimants for unemployment benefits was 885,000 in the week ending December 12, the highest number since the week of September 5. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected initial claims to drop to 808,000.

The first claims from the past week were revised higher by 9,000 to 862,000.

These numbers “really underscore the vulnerability of the job market, especially now as the second resurgence of the coronavirus [is] leading to further business closures and additional job losses, “Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel, told CNBC’s” Squawk Box. “

The recent rise in the number of weekly unemployment claims is as coronavirus cases are on the rise across the country.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 247,000 new infections were confirmed in the US, along with more than 3,600 Covid-related deaths. Data from The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project showed a record number of 113,000 people in the hospital with the virus.

Congress, meanwhile, is struggling to push through new legislation before the end of the year to help individuals and businesses.

Congress leaders on Wednesday sealed a $ 900 billion package that would include direct payments to individuals. However, measures would rule out corporate liability protection and aid to national and local governments.

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