U.S. weekly jobless claims slightly drop after soaring to five-month high

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Initial jobless claims in the United States slightly dropped to 900,000 last week, after soaring to five-month high in the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

In the week ending Jan. 16, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits declined by 26,000 from the previous week's downwardly revised level of 926,000, according to a report released by the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The latest BLS report also showed that the number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits in the week ending Jan. 9 decreased by 127,000 to 5 million.

Meanwhile, the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs -- state and federal combined -- for the week ending Jan. 2 also decreased by 2.4 million, but remained elevated at nearly 16 million, as the country struggles to grapple with the fallout of surging COVID-19 infections.

According to the monthly employment report released by the Labor Department earlier this month, U.S. employers slashed 140,000 jobs in December, marking the first monthly decline in employment since April 2020.

The unemployment rate, which had been trending down over the past seven months, remained unchanged at 6.7 percent in December, the report showed.

"The newly passed, $900 billion in fiscal aid will help to blunt the pain we are enduring and help get us to herd immunity," Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, a major accounting firm, wrote in an analysis.

She added that prospects for additional fiscal stimulus have picked up now that Democrats have gained a slim majority in the Senate.

Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, as the nation grapples with an unprecedented health crisis and strives to climb out of a deep economic hole.

Less than a week ahead of inauguration, Biden unveiled a 1.9-trillion-dollar COVID-19 relief bill, indicating the urgency to fight the raging pandemic and bolster the ravaged economy amid surging coronavirus cases.

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