Another 800,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits the week before Christmas, adding to the nearly 18 million who remain unemployed amid widespread COVID shutdowns and permanent business closures.
According to a report from CBS News, that’s more than three times the 225,000 weekly average prior to the pandemic.
Nearly 400,000 more applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a specific federal program which offers help to self-employed workers and contractors.
The latest report comes just one day after Congress agreed to a COVID relief bill that includes a one-time $600 cash payment to Americans making less than $75,000 per year based on their 2019 tax returns, along with $600 per child. President Donald Trump slammed the bill in a statement Tuesday, saying he’s returning it to the Capitol and asking Congress to up the amount to $2,000 per person, or $4,000 per couple, with addition funds for children.
Meanwhile, businesses in many urban areas remain only partially open or closed entirely thanks t government-mandated shutdowns, which have forced restaurants and bars to offer only carry-out and delivery services while keeping commercial industries like theaters and gyms closed entirely.