Weekly jobless claims rise to 861,000 amid drop in COVID, pending $1.9T relief package

The first-time claims figure was nearly 90,000 higher than the number anticipated by economists.

The number of first-time jobless claims for U.S. workers last week increased to 861,000, roughly 13,000 more than in the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The numbers were released as the coronavirus pandemic, now in its 12th month, continues to slow the global economy. 

Last week's number exceed economists' predictions by 90,000 claims, as the Biden administration tries to get a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed through Congress and as the number of reported virus infections and related deaths have declined in recent weeks.

Last week's number is still below the January peak of 926,000 but reverses a recent trend in which the number has declined slightly.