The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims decreased to 787,000 last week as the economy continued to suffer the effects of the Congoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) figure released Thursday represented a decrease of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Dec. 26, in which there were 803,000 new jobless claims reported. Roughly 19.6 million Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits, according to the BLS report Thursday.

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Economists expected Thursday’s jobless claims number to come in around 828,000, The Wall Street Journal reported. New jobless claims fell below 1 million in the first week of August, which was the first time the weekly claims had fallen below 1 million since March.

“Incoming jobless claims data continue to show weak labor market conditions with increases in initial and continuing claims (after accounting for extended benefit programs) consistent with a decline in non-farm payroll employment during December,” said Lewis Alexander, and economist for financial services company Nomura, according to Yahoo Finance.

Investors, meanwhile, have focused on the passage of the coronavirus relief bill, according to CNBC. President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion stimulus package Sunday, which included direct payments of $600 and $320 billion in small business support.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged at the end of November, surpassing 30,000 for the first time in the index’s history due to positive vaccine developments, according to CNBC. The U.S. economy surged by a record 33.1% in the third quarter.

However, in a sign of the economic recovery slowing, the U.S. added just 245,000 jobs in November, while unemployment fell to 6.7%, according to the Department of Labor data released Dec. 4. U.S. retail sales plummeted by 1.1% in November even as holiday shopping began, a Department of Commerce report showed Dec. 16.

Jobless claims hovered around 200,000 per week before the pandemic, according to The WSJ. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in March as coronavirus spread rapidly around the world.

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