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U.S. Weekly Unemployment Claims Fall Slightly, Remain Above 900,000 as COVID Surges

People wait in line to file for unemployment following amid an outbreak of the coronavirus at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fort Smith, Ark., April 6, 2020.  (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

Americans filed 900,000 new unemployment claims last week, a figure slightly lower than expected and a small drop from the week prior as the coronavirus continues to surge nationwide.

Economists had predicted Americans would file 935,000 claims last week, a slight decline from the 965,000 new claims filed one week earlier, when new claims reached their highest number since late August.

According to a report by Labor Department released Thursday, 5.1 million Americans are continuing to receive state jobless benefits, a decrease from 5.2 million the week before.

One reason for the recent increase in new jobless claims could be the coronavirus relief package that was passed in late December, which provides a $300-per-week federal unemployment benefit in addition to regular state jobless aid. Economists have suggested that the new benefit may be encouraging more Americans to apply for benefits.

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