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New U.S. jobless claims rise sharply as states tighten Covid restrictions

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The pace of new jobless claims in the United States accelerated to 853,000 last week, after a new surge in coronavirus cases spurred a new round of closures that hampered the labor market’s recovery.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits had risen from 716,000 seasonally adjusted claims the week before, the US Department of Labor said Thursday. Economists expected a smaller increase to 725,000 claims.

There were 5.76 million Americans actively collecting public unemployment assistance as of Nov. 28, down from 5.53 million the week earlier and economists’ expectations for another drop. The insured unemployment rate, seen as an alternative measure of unemployment, fell from 3.8 percent to 3.9 percent.

Continuing claims had declined for 10 straight weeks, from 12.7 million in mid-September, although economists attribute the drop in part to the unemployed exhausting regular benefits.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a Cares Act program that provides benefits to the self-employed and others who would not qualify for regular benefits, received 427,609 new claims last week on an unadjusted basis , compared to 288,234 a week earlier.

United States added 245,000 jobs in November, the slowest hiring rate since 22 million jobs combined were lost in March and April at the height of early coronavirus shutdowns. The economy has now recovered 12.3 million jobs.

Washington lawmakers have revived talks to provide additional economic aid, at a time when job growth has slowed and many states have reimposed brakes on businesses after an increase in infections and hospitalizations.

Republicans and Democrats remain divided over the details of a stimulus package. The White House offered a $ 916 billion package, bigger than a bipartisan $ 908 billion proposal, but which reduced the amount of federal unemployment benefits and added stimulus checks of $ 600 per person. Democratic leaders have said they are opposed to cutting unemployment assistance.

The Unemployment Claims Report showed 19 million people were claiming benefits across all state and federal programs as of Nov. 21, up from 20.2 million, according to unadjusted figures reported two weeks behind schedule.

In other economic data, consumer prices rose 0.2% in November from the previous month. The consumer price index was stable in October.

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