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Another 847,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits in Joe Biden’s first week as president

America’s unemployment crisis is now President Joe Biden’s problem, and jobless claims in his (partial) first week as president show how far the economy has to go to get back to normal.

Another 847,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Department of Labor. It was a decrease from the 914,000 claims in the week before.

On top of that, 426,856 workers filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program designed to provide aid to those not eligible for regular state benefits, such as gig workers. PUA claims are not adjusted for seasonal swings.

Together, first-time claims stood at 1.3 million without seasonal adjustments.

Continued jobless claims, which count workers who have applied for benefits at least two weeks in a row, fell slightly to 4.8 million.

A year ago, jobless claims hovered around 200,000 each week. So America has a long path to get back to that healthy level.

To achieve that, Biden signed several executive orders aimed at creating new jobs, with a focus on green energy jobs that will help America prepare for the economy of the future. The White House has also proposed an increase in weekly emergency jobless benefits as part of a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill aimed at jump-starting the economy.

But Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday the priority must be getting the American population vaccinated against Covid-19. No programs will be able to help get the economy fully back to normal until we the pandemic is under control.

“There’s been a lot of adapting — but you can’t adapt hotels, sporting venues, movie theaters, restaurants, bars. That’s millions and millions of people,” Powell said at a press conference.

“And so you’re just going to have to defeat the pandemic. …That is really the main thing about the economy is getting the pandemic under control, getting everyone vaccinated, getting people wearing masks and all that,” he added. “That’s the single most important economic growth policy that we can have.”

Article Topic Follows: Consumer

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