Unemployment claims rise dramatically nationally as pandemic continues its winter surge.

The Department of Labor reports another increase in claims for initial unemployment insurance benefits last week.

In the week ending December 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 853,000, an increase of 137,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 4,000 from 712,000 to 716,000. The 4-week moving average was 776,000, an increase of 35,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 1,000 from 739,500 to 740,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.9 percent for the week ending November 28, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 28 was 5,757,000, an increase of 230,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

The Associated Press reports,

The latest figures coincide with a surging viral outbreak that appears to be weakening the job market and the economy and threatening to derail any recovery. Consumers thus far haven’t spent as much this holiday shopping season as they have in previous years, according to credit and debit card data. And in November, employers added jobs at the slowest pace since April. Restaurants, bars and retailers all cut jobs last month.

The increase reflected sharp increases across the country, with new applications for jobless aid jumping more than 47,000 in California, 31,000 in Illinois, 17,000 in New York and 13,000 in Georgia. Many states, particularly California, have adopted sweeping new restrictions on business activity. But even some states that generally haven’t imposed stricter rules on businesses reported sharp increases in jobless claims last week. In Texas, for example, they jumped by nearly 20,000 to 45,000.

The jobs market is tough, obviously, and with several federal programs expiring soon, the prospects for unemployed workers are also tough.

“It’s evident the labor market is still in crisis,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the Indeed job search website. “The gap between now and when a vaccine is widely distributed looms large. There’s a lot of uncertainty ahead for the labor market going into the new year.”

About those expiring programs.

All told, more than 19 million people are still dependent on some type of unemployment benefit. And unless Congress acts soon, nearly half of them will lose that aid in just over two weeks. That’s when two jobless aid programs that the federal government created in the spring are set to expire.

The first program provides unemployment benefits to the self-employed and contract workers, who weren’t eligible in the past. The second program is the one that extends jobless aid for 13 weeks.

Although negotiations continue, Congress has yet to announce an agreement. It’s past time.