The increase in the number of applications is partly due to the temporary closure of some automobile plants.
The number of initial applications for unemployment benefits in the United States unexpectedly increased last week. Still, the labor market is steadily recovering, as additional fiscal incentives and a decrease in coronavirus incidence allow more service businesses to open.
The Labor Department said Thursday that 861,000 applications were filed last week, seasonally adjusted, compared with 848,000 the week before. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 765,000 applications.
The increase in applications is partly due to the temporary closure of some automotive factories last week due to disruptions in the supply of semiconductor chips worldwide. General Motors has announced that it will completely stop production at its Fairfax plant in Kansas City for a week, starting on February 8.
Ford Motor has reduced the number of shifts at its Dearborn truck manufacturing plant and its Kansas City assembly plant.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations has been declining since mid-January.
Official data released on Wednesday showed that in January, retail sales showed a record increase in seven months.
The recovery of the labor market is also supported by preparing a new economic assistance package for $ 1.9 trillion, which Congress is now considering.
According to the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s January 26-27 meeting released on Wednesday, most Fed officials “expect that further progress in vaccination will lead to a significant increase in economic activity.”
Last week’s benefit claims data covers the period during which the government conducted a survey of businesses for the non-agricultural portion of the February employment report. However, the application data did not send a good signal about job growth due to the economic shock caused by the pandemic.
The US added 49,000 new jobs in January, following a decline of 227,000 in December.
So far, about 12.3 million of the 22.2 million jobs lost during the pandemic have been restored. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that employment will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.