The five-month record of keeping initial weekly jobless claims below one million remains intact — but only barely. Despite expectations that the Phase 4 relief package might have contained the job destruction of new COVID-19 restrictions on commerce, new jobless claims soared by 181,000 to 965,000, far above expectations set by economists.
More worrisome is the reversal of paid jobless benefits. Those had been on a steady decline over the past several months even while the topline number had plateaued since late September. This week, however, the number fo people receiving paid benefits jumped back upward by nearly 200K, emphasis mine:
In the week ending January 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 965,000, an increase of 181,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 3,000 from 787,000 to 784,000. The 4-week moving average was 834,250, an increase of 18,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 2,750 from 818,750 to 816,000.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.7 percent for the week ending January 2, an increase of 0.2 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 2 was 5,271,000, an increase of 199,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 5,072,000. The 4-week moving average was 5,215,750, a decrease of 59,000 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 5,274,750.