State unemployment benefits claims have dramatically increased as the pandemic continues.
According to the Labor Department, 1.15 million workers filed claims for state unemployment benefits during the first full week of January. Additionally, 284,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims were filed.
The economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, which was the first drop in employment since the spring of 2020.
"Today's report shows that we're in a deep economic hole, and we're digging in the wrong direction," said senior economist with career site Glassdoor, Daniel Zhao. "The report obviously shows that the rise in claims is worse than expected, and there is reason to think that things are going to get worse before they are going to get better."
The labor market has bounced back somewhat since the first coronavirus wave, but almost 10 million of the 22 million jobs that disappeared remain lost.
"Compared to then, we are doing better. But compared to the pre-Covid era, we still have so far to go," said economist at Indeed, AnnElizabeth Konkel.
Economists and analysts alike are optimistic as more people get vaccinated, hoping that will ease the restrictions on businesses and potentially lead to a resurgence in consumer activity.