NORTH CAROLINA -- The number of new unemployment claims nationally spiked last week to the highest number since August. The jump shows the nation’s economy continues to struggle as the coronavirus continues to increase across the United States.
Nationally, 1.15 million people filed initial claims for jobless benefits last week. The seasonally adjusted number is 965,000, the new unemployment report shows.
In North Carolina, the numbers last week were not nearly as drastic. The state recorded about 14,500 new unemployment claims for the week ending January 9. That number is up from about 13,300 the week before, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The number of new unemployment claims nationally last week is up 181,000 over the week before, the department said Thursday in its weekly unemployment report.
In North Carolina and around the country, unemployment hit record levels as the economy shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Employment has recovered some since the state reopened, but the spiking numbers show the pandemic is still hurting the labor market.
Since the coronavirus arrived in North Carolina in March, the state Division of Unemployment Security has processed almost 3.2 million unemployment claims. The state has paid out more than $9.2 billion in jobless benefits since March 15, including increased benefits from federal coronavirus relief funds.
Unemployed workers are now getting a new round of additional unemployment benefits. Congress approved an additional $300 a week in federal unemployment payments in the latest relief bill passed in December. Those payments are set to expire in March.
The new Congress and President-elect Joe Biden say they plan for a new relief bill that could include new direct payments to Americans and extend federal help for jobless benefits.
The country has 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic, according to the Associated Press. Since the spring, 56% of the jobs lost across the country have recovered.