by: By MARTIN CRUTSINGER AP Economics Writer
Posted: Dec 31, 2020 / 09:25 AM EST
/ Updated: Dec 31, 2020 / 09:25 AM EST
FILE – This May 7, 2020, file photo shows a man wearing a mask while walking under a Now Hiring sign at a CVS Pharmacy during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco. On Thursday, Nov. 12, the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 709,000, the fourth straight drop and a sign that the job market is slowly healing. The figures coincide with a sharp resurgence in confirmed viral infections to an all-time high above 120,000 a day. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 19,000 but remain elevated at 787,000 as a resurgent coronavirus grips the U.S. economy.
While at the lowest level in four weeks, the new figures released Thursday by the Labor Department are nearly four times higher than a year ago before the coronavirus struck. Employers continue to cut jobs as rising coronavirus infections keep many people at home while state and local governments re-impose restrictions.
Jobless claims were running around 225,000 a week before the pandemic struck with force last March causing weekly jobless claims to surge to a high of 6.9 million in late March as efforts to contain the virus sent the economy into a deep recession.
The government said that the total number of people receiving traditional unemployment benefits fell by 103,000 to 5.2 million for the week ending Dec. 19 compared to the previous week.