Weekly jobless claims unexpectedly rise, hit highest level since early September

A person wearing a face mask walks past a store going out of business on October 8, 2020 in New York City.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

Jobless claims unexpectedly rose last week as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pressure the economy while lawmakers struggle to push through new government aid, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The number of first-time unemployment-benefits filers totaled 885,000 in the week ending Dec. 12, the most since the week of Sept. 5. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected initial claims to fall to 808,000.

Initial claims for the previous week were revised higher by 9,000 to 862,000.

These numbers “really highlight the fragility of the labor market, particularly now as the second resurgence of the coronavirus [is] leading to further business closures and additional job losses, ” Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

The recent uptick in weekly jobless claims comes as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise across the country.

More than 247,000 new infections were confirmed in the U.S. along with more than 3,600 Covid-related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Data from The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project showed a record 113,000 people were hospitalized with the virus.

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