Nationally 712,000 initial unemployment claims filed last week, a slight decrease from previous week.

The Department of Labor reports another week of high unemployment.

In the week ending November 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 712,000, a decrease of 75,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 9,000 from 778,000 to 787,000. The 4-week moving average was 739,500, a decrease of 11,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 2,250 from 748,500 to 750,750.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.8 percent for the week ending November 21, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point from the previous week’s revised rate. The previous week’s rate was revised up by 0.1 from 4.1 to 4.2 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 21 was 5,520,000, a decrease of 569,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

As the graph below shows, claims have settled at a high plateau since the spring surge.

The Associated Press reports,

“Thanksgiving seasonals likely explain the drop” in jobless claims last week, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a research note. “Expect a rebound next week.”

Things are getting tough as the nation approaches the end of the year.

With layoffs still elevated and new confirmed viral cases in the United States now exceeding 160,000 a day on average, the economy’s modest recovery is increasingly in danger. States and cities are issuing mask mandates, limiting the size of gatherings, restricting restaurant dining, closing gyms or reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses.

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Many jobless Americans are now collecting checks under two federal programs that were set up this year to ease the economic pain inflicted by the pandemic. But those programs are set to expire the day after Christmas. When they do, benefits will end completely for an estimated 9.1 million unemployed people.

With that in mind, there appears to be progress toward another federal relief measure, according to the AP.

President-elect Joe Biden swung behind a bipartisan COVID-19 relief effort Wednesday and his top Capitol Hill allies cut their demands for a $2 trillion-plus measure by more than half in hopes of breaking a monthslong logjam and delivering much-sought aid as the tempestuous congressional session speeds to a close.

Biden said the developing aid package “wouldn’t be the answer, but it would be the immediate help for a lot of things.” He wants a relief bill to pass Congress now, with more aid to come next year.

The clock is ticking.

Any relief package would be attached to a $1.4 trillion year-end spending bill required to avert a government shutdown next weekend. Talks on that measure are proceeding but if lawmakers should stumble, a temporary spending bill would be needed as a bridge into next year.

The bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed a split-the-difference solution to the protracted impasse, hoping to speed overdue help to a hurting nation before Congress adjourns for the holidays. It was a sign that some lawmakers reluctant to adjourn for the year without approving some pandemic aid.

A justified reluctance.