America continues to face staggering unemployment rates amid the pandemic.
According to a new report by the Labor Department, an additional 787,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ending Dec. 26, with another 308,000 applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides aid to self-employed and gig workers.
Though new jobless claims were at a four-week low last week, the numbers from the holidays are almost four times higher than before COVID-19 became widespread, CBS News reports. Rates have been growing since the fall as cases keep rising, leading to reduced hiring and more layoffs. The newest figure from the DOL was 19,000 lower than the previous week, which saw 803,000 claims. The average number of claims over the last month is now at 836,750.
On Sunday, Donald Trump signed the $900 billion COVID relief bill, which included an extension of jobless aid for an additional 10 weeks and boosted unemployment benefits with another $300 per week. However, he agreed to the package hours after unemployment benefits already expired for millions of people.
The national unemployment rate was at 3.6 percent in January, but shot up to a record high of 14.7 percent in April as COVID forced most of the U.S. economy to shut down. Since then, unemployment has decreased, sitting at 6.7 percent in November, but returning back to a new normal has still been difficult on women and Black, Latinx, and young people, who are still seeing high rates of unemployment.