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Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 1 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims for the 46th consecutive week last week, the Labor Department reported.

Why it matters: There is no historical precedent for the ongoing rate of job losses in the U.S.

  • The country is now just six weeks from going a full year with more than a million people filing for unemployment every week.
  • Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. had seen 1 million unemployment claims reported just once in the history of the Labor Department's data — the week ending Jan. 9, 1982, when 1,073,500 claims were filed.

The intrigue: While the unemployment rate has continued to decline since the middle of 2020, the number of companies reporting layoffs has been increasing in recent months as has the number of people filing for unemployment benefits.

  • Job cuts in January increased from December, which saw an increase from November, according to the latest report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
  • The firm counted 2.3 million job cuts in 2020, but only about half were due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The last word: "It's hard to understate the extreme disruption that is still ongoing in the labor market," MacroPolicy Perspectives president Julia Coronado tells Axios.

  • "For almost a year initial claims for unemployment benefits have exceeded the highest levels seen in the Great Recession."
  • "Net job creation has slowed ... and it is way too soon to settle into a slower pace of job creation given the deep hole we are still in. At this rate, it will take many years just to restore what was lost let alone add new jobs for a growing population."

Go deeper

32 mins ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.

Retail stock traders power stunning comeback after deep selloff

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Stocks staged a Patrick Mahomes-esque comeback Monday, after plunging for the first few hours of trading.

Why it matters: The remarkable recovery suggests that retail traders who upended markets over the last year — most notably during the GameStop bonanza that occurred almost exactly a year ago — continue to be powerful influence in the markets.

America can't quit polarizing politicians

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New data finds that the nation's most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.