The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 744,000, signaling that many employers are still cutting jobs even as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, consumers gain confidence and the government distributes aid throughout the economy.
The Labor Department said Thursday that applications increased by 16,000 from 728,000 a week earlier. Jobless claims have declined sharply since the virus slammed into the economy in March of last year. But they remain stubbornly high by historical standards: Before the pandemic erupted, weekly applications typically remained below 220,000 a week.
For the week ending March 27, more than 3.7 million people were receiving traditional state unemployment benefits, the government said. If you include supplemental federal programs that were established last year to help the unemployed endure the health crisis, a total of 18.2 million are receiving some form of jobless aid the week of March 20.
Here's an update on all developments. Scroll further for in-depth coverage.
- Advocates for prison inmates say more needs to be done to educate prisoners about coronavirus vaccines because large numbers of them are declining the shots.
- Doctors in Japan announced they have successfully performed the world’s first transplant of lung tissue from living donors to a patient with severe lung damage from COVID-19.
- As the COVID-19 pandemic killed more than a half-million Americans, it also quietly inflamed what was before it one of the country’s greatest public health crises: addiction.
- Beaten down by the pandemic, some laid-off or idle restaurant workers have pivoted to dishing out food with a taste of home.
- The Biden administration and allies in the states are combating vaccine hesitancy among older Americans, one person at a time. The vaccination rate for this top-priority group is reaching a plateau even as virus supplies have dramatically expanded.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has received a single-dose coronavirus vaccine, his office confirmed Wednesday. He did so out of the public eye even as governors elsewhere across the political spectrum have been vaccinated publicly to reassure Americans that the shots are safe.
- Are some COVID-19 vaccines more effective than others? It’s hard to tell since they weren’t directly compared in studies. But experts say the vaccines are alike on what matters most: preventing hospitalizations and deaths.
- A patchwork of advice is emerging from governments across Europe and farther afield, a day after the European Union’s drug regulator said there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare clotting disorder.
- Tokyo has asked Japan's central government for permission to implement emergency measures to curb a surge in a rapidly spreading and more contagious coronavirus variant, just over three months before the start of the Olympics.
- For the second year in a row, the traditional French Open schedule is being disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. The clay-court Grand Slam tennis tournament said Thursday it will push back the start of this season’s event by one week because of surging virus cases in France.