More than 900,000 Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week, down by 26,000 from the previous week and 25,000 less than estimates.
Despite the slight week-over-week increase, the figure has not dipped below its pre-pandemic record of 695,000, set in 1982, since late March.Claims fell as low as 711,000 in early November before a winter surge in COVID-19 cases across the nation forced many states to reimpose various social distancing measures. Data also revealed an estimated 3 million people fell off the unemployment cliff when pandemic-related benefits lapsed in December as an economic stimulus package stalled in Congress.
Separately, a poll revealed nearly one-third of small-business owners surveyed said they were unable to pay January rent. The trend is the lagging part of what analysts call a K-shaped recovery, which occurs when different parts of the economy rebound at different rates. Conversely, the stock markets, driven largely by tech giants, all closed at or near record highs yesterday.
To launch a fight-back President Biden plans to sign two executive orders today that would increase food aid, protect jobseekers on unemployment and clear a path for federal workers and contractors to get a $15 minimum wage. The actions are an effort to rush financial relief to millions of Americans hurt by the fallout from the pandemic, while Congress begins to consider and debate the stimulus package proposed by Biden. You can follow all developments on that later here.