WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, in line with the recent stagnation in the labor market recovery. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled 793,000 seasonally adjusted for the week ending Feb. 6, compared with 812,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 757,000 requests for the past week. Claims remain above their peak of 665,000 during the 2007-2009 Great Recession. However, they are well below the record of 6.867 million recorded last March when the pandemic hit the United States. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged on Wednesday that “improving labor market conditions stalled” in recent months due to the resurgence of coronavirus infections, which weighed heavily on restaurants and other food-oriented businesses. consumer. The government reported last Friday that the economy created just 49,000 jobs in January after losing 227,000 in December. But there are reasons for cautious optimism. New coronavirus cases reported in the United States fell 25% last week, the biggest drop since the pandemic hit the nation. Infections have declined for four consecutive weeks, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county reports. If the trend continues and vaccine distribution widens, that could allow more businesses to reopen. The $ 1.9 trillion recovery package proposed by President Joe Biden in addition to the nearly $ 900 billion in additional pandemic relief provided by the government in late December could also support the job market. The economy has recovered 12.3 million of the 22.2 million jobs lost during the pandemic. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that employment would not return to its pre-pandemic level before 2024. Millions of unemployed Americans are experiencing long periods of unemployment.
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