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Volunteers distribute meals at a food bank in Pennsylvania last month. (Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

More than 1.4 million Americans filed for jobless claims last week — a figure that includes first-time filings for regular state unemployment and another program for non-traditional workers.

Why it matters: It’s another surge in the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits, an additional sign the labor market is facing more strain as the coronavirus continues to ravage the country.

How it breaks down:

  • There were over 1.15 million new applications for the regular state unemployment, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. It’s the first time this figure has spiked over 1 million since July.
  • There were more than 284,000 applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program created in March that allows typically ineligible workers to receive unemployment benefits (think gig workers or the self-employed).

Separately, continued claims — or how many Americans continue to collect unemployment after initially applying — rose to 5.8 million, an increase of nearly 500,000 from the prior week.

  • A similar gauge for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program fell by more than 940,000 in the week ending Dec. 26 — likely a result of people exhausting their benefits before the new relief bill was signed into law.
  • Continued claims in this program total more than 7.4 million, a figure economists warn may be overstated.

The bottom line: The rising jobless claims are way off the worst weekly levels seen at the onset of the coronavirus. But last week’s new filings are still nearly twice as bad as the highest level from before the pandemic.

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases fall in 41 states

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections fell by 16% over the past week — the third straight week of significant improvement.

Yes, but: The U.S. is still averaging roughly 165,000 new cases per day, meaning the virus is still spreading largely unchecked. And the rise of more contagious variants will ensure that Americans’ risk remains high.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
7 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Carbon emissions are roaring back from COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: IEA Global Energy Review 2021; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global energy-related carbon emissions will surge this year as coal, oil and natural gas consumption return from the pandemic that caused an unprecedented emissions decline, the International Energy Agency estimated Tuesday.

Why it matters: The projected rise of nearly 5% would be the largest since the "carbon intensive" recovery from the financial crisis over a decade ago, IEA said, putting emissions just below their 2019 peak.

29 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

Jurors resume deliberations as the nation awaits Chauvin verdict

Protesters outside Hennepin County Government Center on the day of closing arguments. Photo: Christopher Mark Juhn/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial resume deliberations Tuesday morning as the nation waits for a verdict.

The latest: The 12 jurors met behind closed doors for about three hours Monday before breaking for the night at 7pm.

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