US weekly jobless claims rise as virus continues to force layoffs

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 744,000, signaling that many employers are still cutting jobs even as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, consumers gain confidence and the government distributes aid throughout the economy. 

The Labor Department said this morning that applications increased by 16,000 from 728,000 a week earlier. Though jobless claims have declined sharply since the virus first slammed into the economy in March of last year. they remain high by historical standards. Before the pandemic, weekly applications typically remained below 220,000 a week.  

For the week ending March 27, more than 3.7 million people were receiving traditional state unemployment benefits, the government said. If you include supplemental federal programs that were established last year to help the unemployed endure the health crisis, a total of 18.2 million were receiving some form of jobless aid the week of March 20. See the national report.