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Photo: Bridget Bennett/AFP via Getty Images

New applications for unemployment bumped higher last week, after jobless claims filings steadily dropped in recent weeks, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Why it matters: Economists are hesitant to draw too many conclusions about the broader economy from this week's higher filings alone, but they're watching for worsening effects on the labor market as Congress' stimulus negotiations stall.

  • Unemployment applications still remain higher than any point in U.S. history before the pandemic.

By the numbers: Regular state unemployment applications totaled 891,510, roughly 53,000 more filings than the prior week.

  • Add in the 542,000 additional applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which offers benefits to gig workers and the self-employed, and the number of total new applications rises to 1.4 million.
  • Worth noting: Accounting for seasonal factors — which can distort the data during an unprecedented period of unemployment filings — regular state unemployment applications totaled 1.1 million.

What to watch: Over 28 million people were collecting some form of unemployment as of August 1, when the $600-a-week enhanced unemployment benefit expired.

  • Congress hasn't made progress on legislation that would provide an additional financial cushion for those relying on unemployment benefits.
  • President Trump signed an executive memo allowing states to tap disaster relief funds to provide an extra $300 in unemployment benefits, but so far only a few states signaled they will move forward to distribute those payments. Even then, it could take several weeks for their residents to receive the extra funds.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Nov 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

The jobs recovery remains far from complete

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added more jobs than expected last month — 638,000 — marking the sixth month of consecutive declines in the unemployment rate, but there are still 10 million fewer jobs filled than there were in February.

What they're saying: "The combination of elevated unemployment and part-time employment and low participation all point to significant slack in the labor market," economists at Jefferies write in a note to clients.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Nov 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

P.S. Economic polls are bad, too

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This week America witnessed a forecasting failure of almost unprecedented magnitude. October's unemployment rate came in at 6.9%, after dozens of the best-paid and most experienced economic forecasters in the world had predicted the number would come in at 7.7%.

Why it matters: Those forecasters had literally millions of data points of information to go on, and have had ample experience with unemployment releases, which come out like clockwork on the first Friday of every month. But there will be no great post-mortem about why they got the number so wrong.

Updated 1 min ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office.
  2. Health: Coronavirus death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased COVID-19 testing can reduce transmission — Hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Vaccine: What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do — Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take vaccine in public —WSJ: Pfizer expects to ship half as many COVID vaccines as planned in 2020.