The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 793,000, evidence that job cuts remain high despite a substantial decline in new viral infections.
Last week’s total declined from 812,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That figure was revised higher from the previously-reported figure of 779,000. Before the virus erupted in the United States in March, weekly jobless aid applications had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession.
The job market’s improvement slowed through the fall, and in the past two months has nearly stalled. Over the past two months combined, employers have cut 178,000 jobs. Almost 10 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic.
Though the unemployment rate fell in January to 6.3% from 6.7%, mainly because many people who had lost jobs stopped looking for one, the government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they’re actively seeking work.