Some 712,000 Americans filed for jobless benefits last week, about 10 percent lower than the previous week, Labour Department data showed on Thursday, as the US job market continued to struggle nine months into the pandemic.
"In the week ending 28 November, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 712,000”, the department said in a news release.
It revised upward claims in the previous week to 21 November to 787,000 from a previously published 778,000. That dropped the latest week’s claims by 75,000, or about 10 percent.
Claims rose in the previous week to 21 November, rising by 30,000, or 4 percent, to break four weeks of declines prior to that.
Data on the latest filings came after a bipartisan group of US lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion COVID-19 relief bill aimed on Tuesday at breaking a monthslong deadlock between Democrats and Republicans over new emergency assistance for small businesses, unemployed people and industries.
Congress reached agreement with the Trump administration in March to pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) stimulus, dispensing roughly $2.2 trillion as paycheck protection for workers, loans and grants for businesses and other personal aid for qualifying citizens and residents.
Since then, Democrats in the House of Representatives have been locked in a stalemate with the administration and Republicans in the Senate on a successive relief plan to CARES. The dispute has basically been over the size of the next stimulus as thousands of Americans, particularly those in the airlines sector, risked losing their jobs without further aid.
Continuous jobless claims for the latest week in review showed fewer filings from the previous week. Some 5.52 million Americans were on continuous claims for the week ended 28 November, versus 6.09 million during the week to 21 November. The unemployment rate for last week, meanwhile, stood at 3.8 percent, down 0.4 percentage point from the previous week.
The United States lost more than 21 million jobs between March and April, at the height of lockdowns forced by the COVID-19. A rebound of 2.5 million jobs was logged in May and 4.8 million in June, before the recovery began slowing. For both September and October, fewer than 700,000 jobs were added.
The US economy grew by 33.1 percent in the third quarter, after shrinking by 31.4 percent in the previous three months and 5 percent in the first quarter.
Despite the rebound, the economic outlook for the United States remains dire with a rash of new coronavirus infections reported across a nation with nearly 14 million COVID-19 cases since January and more than 273,000 fatalities from that. Hospitalisation has also hit daily record highs of above 100,000 in recent weeks, even as vaccine development efforts have been showing promise.