business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times writes that the US Department of Labor yesterday reported that "new claims for unemployment benefits dropped for the first time in three weeks … Nearly 714,000 people filed initial claims for state unemployment insurance last week, compared with 836,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported. With seasonal swings factored in, last week’s total was 712,000."

The Times notes that despite the decline, "the economy remains under pressure as Covid-19 cases surge and fresh restrictions on businesses loom in some states.

The Thanksgiving holiday is likely to have delayed the filing of claims, and economists warn there will be more job losses ahead if the pandemic worsens."

Meanwhile, National Public Radio reports that "U.S. employers sharply scaled back their hiring last month, as the coronavirus pandemic put new pressure on restaurants, retailers and other businesses.

"The Labor Department said Friday employers added just 245,000 jobs in November, down from a revised 610,000 in October. The unemployment rate dipped to 6.7%, from 6.9% the month before. So far the U.S. has recovered 56% of the jobs that were lost in March and April, and payroll employment is still 9.8 million below its pre-pandemic levels. 

"The slowdown in job growth comes as new infections are surging, and as Congress wrestles with whether to extend relief measures currently set to expire the day after Christmas."