Weekly jobless claims surge to their highest total since August

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First-time claims for unemployment insurance jumped to 965,000 last week amid signs of a slowdown in hiring due to pandemic restrictions, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The total was worse than Wall Street estimates of 800,000 and above the previous week’s total of 784,000.

The total of those receiving benefits under all government declined sharply despite the rise in the weekly numbers. That level fell to 18.4 million from 19.2 million in the previous week. The data runs two weeks behind the weekly claims total. The decrease came primarily from a slide in those filing for emergency pandemic claims, though it remains well above the 2.18 million receiving benefits for the same period a year ago.

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