US initial jobless claims hit highest level in 5 months

By Ovunc Kutlu

ANKARA (AA) – Initial jobless claims hit their highest level in five months Thursday as the coronavirus pandemic continues to drag the labor market in the world's largest economy, according to the US Labor Department.

The number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims jumped 181,000 from the previous week to 965,000 for the week ending Jan. 9.

Analysts expected the figure to come in at 795,000, while the previous week's number was revised down 3,000 to 784,000.

The states of California, Florida, Illinois and Kansas saw the highest rises in claims, while Colorado and Michigan posted declines.

The US shed a massive number of jobs in December as private payrolls fell 123,000 to mark its first monthly decline since April, while nonfarm payrolls declined 140,000.

Since 22 million workers in the US lost jobs since March and April due to lockdowns and low economic activity caused by COVID-19, only half managed to regain employment.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to immediately urge Congress to pass a relief bill of at least $1 trillion after his Jan. 20 inauguration, which would increase stimulus checks for jobless Americans to $2,000 from $600.