09:20 GMT25 February 2021
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    US President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus proposal calls on Congress to raise the supplemental unemployment benefit to $400 a week, a $100 increase from the weekly payments approved by lawmakers just last month.

    The US Department of Labor announced in its weekly unemployment data news release that 900,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims within the week ending on January 16. 

    The document also revealed that at least 423,734 individuals in 47 states filed new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

    “The drop in jobless claims supports our view that last week’s leap was a fluke, due to seasonal adjustment problems which start over Thanksgiving and persist well into January,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, told Yahoo Finance in an emailed statement.

    “We expect claims to drop again next week, to about 750K; the trend rose late last fall as the third COVID wave built, but is is now about flat, albeit at a very high level.”

    According to the document, the previous week was revised from 965,000 new claims to 926,000 new claims. 

    The DoL data comes just a day after Biden was sworn into office. 

    While 46 has just entered office, the US president has already presented the "American Rescue Plan," a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal that includes a third round of direct COVID-19 relief payments to Americans and $416 billion in funding for the administration's push to vaccinate 100 million Americans and reopen US schools within the first 100 days of the presidency.

    Mark Zandi, a chief economist for Moody's Analytics, told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday that he believes Biden's COVID relief package is "a good step." 

    "The economy is clearly struggling with the pandemic," Zandi noted, highlighting a decline in retail sales for December.

    "If we hadn't gotten that $900 billion fiscal rescue package through Congress and signed by President Trump late in December, we'd probably go back into recession in early 2021." 

    “In a typical economy they’d be a couple hundred thousand per week, so the economy is clearly struggling with the pandemic and it needs more help,” he detailed. 


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