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Data: U.S. Department of Labor via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than 1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, even as new applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program fell to their lowest level since March.

State of play: The $900 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress at the end of December extended the PUA program through at least March but also added a new verification process that forces applicants to reapply in order to reduce fraud.

  • That and President Trump's delay in signing the bill is likely why the number of first-time PUA claims fell from more than 310,000 for the week ending Dec 26 to 161,400 during the week ending Jan. 2, Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, tells Axios.
  • That created "uncertainty/confusion about whether PUA would even exist," she says. "I assume the drop is temporary."

The intrigue: Seasonal adjustment caused another divergence in data, bringing the total number of claims down by 126,000 from the previous week, while the number of claims without accounting for seasonal factors rose by 145,000.

Yikes: Annual data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas found total layoffs in 2020 hit a record 2.3 million, a 289% increase from 2019.

Go deeper: U.S. shed 140,000 jobs in December, halting labor market recovery

Go deeper

Small businesses receive $35 billion in new round of PPP loans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Small Business Administration said last night that so far this year, it has approved 400,000 Paycheck Protection Program loans worth $35 billion — out of the $284 billion of total available funding.

Driving the news: These are the first figures on the status of the forgivable loan program since it relaunched on Jan. 11.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.