Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, lowering claims to 900,000, but still a historically high level that points to further job cuts in a raging pandemic.
The Labor Department’s report underscored that President Joe Biden has inherited an economy that faltered this winter as virus cases spiked, cold weather restricted dining and federal rescue aid expired.
The government said that 5.1 million Americans are continuing to receive state jobless benefits, down from 5.2 million in the previous week. That signals that fewer people who are out of work are finding jobs.
Also on Thursday, the government reported that home construction throughout the U.S. jumped to 5.8% in December to 1.67 million units, ending a strong year in the housing market.
The Commerce Department reported that the better-than-expected gain followed an increase of 9.8% in November.
Housing has been one of the star performers this year even as the overall economy has been wracked by the pandemic.
Record-low mortgage rates and the desire of many people to move to larger homes during the extended stay-at-home period has fueled demand.