U.S. unemployment benefit claims rose again last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, as the surging number of coronavirus cases restricts many businesses throughout the world’s biggest economy.
Seasonally adjusted, a total of 885,000 laid-off workers filed for jobless compensation last week, up 23,000 from the revised figure of the week before. It was the second straight week that the weekly figure had topped 800,000 after hovering in the 700,000-plus range for seven consecutive weeks.
With more than 200,000 new coronavirus cases being recorded every day recently, state governors and municipal officials have been imposing new restrictions on business activity, after lifting similar curbs months ago, when the virus seemed to ebb. Employers, in turn, have been laying off more workers, and applications for unemployment benefits have now risen in four of the last five weeks.
The layoffs are being imposed even as thousands of Americans started getting inoculated against the virus this week with a vaccination developed by U.S. drug maker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. Another vaccine produced by the U.S. biotechnology firm Moderna is likely to be approved within days.
Health care workers and nursing home patients are getting the first wave of shots to curb the pandemic in the U.S. More than 307,000 people have been killed by the virus in the U.S. and nearly 17 million infected, both world-leading figures, according to Johns Hopkins University.