The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 793,000, evidence that job cuts remain high despite a substantial decline in new viral infections.
Last week’s total declined from 812,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That figure was revised higher from the previously-reported figure of 779,000. Before the virus erupted in the United States in March, weekly applications for jobless aid had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession.
However, the total of those receiving benefits across all program jumped to 20.44 million, due to a surge in filings for two pandemic compensation programs, one for those who wouldn’t otherwise receive benefits and the other for those whose regular benefits have run out.
Enrollment under the special pandemic programs rose by nearly 2.7 million for the week ended Jan. 23.
There remain more than 10 million unemployed workers despite more about 12.5 million jobs reclaimed since the depths of the pandemic in March and April 2020.