Updated Dec 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Weekly jobless claims rise to 885,000 as Congress nears stimulus deal


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Initial weekly jobless claims rose to 885,000 last week, an increase of 23,000 and a higher total than the 800,000 claims economists had projected, according to data released by the Labor Department.

Why it matters: The jobless numbers are moving in the wrong direction heading into the holidays. Amid clear indicators that the economic recovery is slowing, Congress looks set to reach a deal on a targeted stimulus package as soon as today.

The state of play: The coronavirus stimulus package emerging in Congress would let all the players declare victory — even if long-suffering Americans disagree.

Tale of the tape: Mitch McConnell can say the final $900 billion price tag is similar to the one he put out in July. Democrats can say the bill excludes the majority leader's demand for liability protections for businesses. And the bipartisan group that kickstarted the final round of talks can point to the success of their bicameral alliance.

The latest: Congressional leaders are hours away from announcing an 11th-hour stimulus package, just days before many of the existing coronavirus relief measures expire on Jan. 1, 2021.

  • The new bill is expected to include a second round of direct payments of around $600, $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits and $325 billion in aid for small businesses.
  • It leaves out the Democrats' previous demand for state and local aid, as well as a Republican-backed shield that would protect businesses from COVID-related liability lawsuits.

Both sides compromised, which is why we're optimistic there's a legitimate shot they pull this off.

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