This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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First-time unemployment claims jumped unexpectedly in the week that ended February 13, rising about 12,000 to 861,000, according to the Department of Labor on Thursday.
A survey of economists ahead of the jobless data had actually predicted that new claims would decline to about 768,000 from an initially reported 793,000 the previous week.
In addition, last week’s figure was revised upward by 55,000 to 848,000, indicating that economically speaking, the first weeks of President Joe Biden’s administration are not going well as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers and growth remains stagnant.
One bright spot, if there are any: Because of volatility among claims from week-to-week, economists tend to look at four-week unemployment averages, and that metric fell 3,500 to 833,250.
But that figure is still well above the Trump administration’s pre-pandemic level of around 225,000 per week.
What’s more, the jobless trend is heading the wrong direction overall. The Associated Press reported that the number of jobless claims for the final week of 2020 was 787,000, down 19,000 from the previous week.
“Jobless claims—which are a proxy for layoffs—remain at extremely high levels. Prior to the pandemic, the highest level of claims was 695,000 hit in October of 1982. In March of 2009, at the depths of the financial crisis recession, jobless claims peaked at 665,000,” Breitbart News reported.
“Claims hit a record 6.87 million for the week of March 27, more than ten times the previous record,” the outlet continued, noting that claims fell steadily until July, when the labor market appeared to stall.
Many are blaming some of Biden’s executive orders, which have included the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, border wall construction, and new oil and gas exploration on federal — read taxpayer — lands, all actions that have, collectively, cost thousands of jobs and the economy billions of dollars.
In an interview with Fox News late last month, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) — whose state stands to lose big bucks and lots of jobs just over the Keystone cancellation — ripped Biden for putting “Saudi Arabia first” instead of American workers.
“It looks like he cares more about workers in Saudi Arabia than the workers in America,” Daines said.
“This is going to have a direct effect [on] the pocketbooks of the American people here in the middle of a pandemic,” he added. “This is a major infrastructure project that President Biden killed six hours into his presidency. It’s outrageous and it’s going to get worse.
“It’s already beginning to be implemented,” he continued. “We’re seeing it before our very eyes — it’s going to kill jobs. It’s going to raise energy prices.”
Other Republicans laid into the president as well.
“If President Biden is serious about any unity, come to Houston. Come to middle America. Come look in the faces of those workers who earn $80,000 a year and tell them why you took their jobs away without even talking to them,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Texas GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, who authored the tax cut plan signed by former President Donald Trump, said Biden’s actions, all told, would cost the country a million jobs at least, most in oil and gas and most of those in the Lone Star State.
“Tell them why their jobs don’t matter to you, their families don’t matter to you, and tell them where they can apply for all those good jobs you promised to replace them because they have bills due now,” he said.