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


LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 29: A biker passes a store for lease in downtown on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. Gov. Gavin Newsom expects California to extend regional stay-at-home orders in two large swaths of the state. The stay-at-home order in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California would have been eligible to expire as early as Monday, but with ICU capacity at 0% in both regions, the restrictions are set to be extended.(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

David Goldman, CNN Business

(CNN) — 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.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.