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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.

Updated 1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Ransomware attack forces shutdown of major U.S. fuel pipeline

A police officer stands guard inside the gate to the Colonial Pipeline Co. Pelham junction and tank farm in Pelham, Alabama, in 2016. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A major U.S. fuel pipeline running from Texas to New York has been taken offline by its operator because of a ransomware attack, Colonial Pipeline said Saturday.

Why it matters: It's a significant breach of critical infrastructure and comes on the heels of multiple other major cyberattacks on both U.S. companies and the federal government.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The wealthy exodus from superstar cities

Pandemic-induced remote work is chipping away at a recent trend of Americans staying put — but only for the well-off.

Why it matters: Telework has been lauded as a geographic equalizer, allowing talented people from all over the country to go for jobs in superstar coastal metros. But the benefits have largely been limited to wealthier workers — so far.