The White House is warning that Americans “can’t get numb” to the number of unemployed workers applying for benefits.
Labor Department data out Thursday showed the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits edged higher last week to 745,000, a sign that many employers continue to cut jobs.
Watch the briefing in the video player above.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the figure represented the 50th week in a row where applications exceeded the pre-pandemic high.
Before the virus flattened the U.S. economy a year ago, applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any week, even during the Great Recession.
Psaki was asked about any outreach the Biden administration had made to Myanmar, after an Associated Press journalist was arrested last week while photographing security forces charging at anti-coup protesters.
“The detaining of journalists, the targeting of journalists and dissidents is certainly something that is of great concern to the president and the Secretary of State,” Psaki said. “The situation on the ground in Burma is troubling,” she added.
Authorities have charged Thein Zaw and five other members of the media with violating a public order law that could see them imprisoned for up to three years.
The Associated Press has also called for Zaw’s immediate release and condemned his arrest and “arbitrary detention.”
Psaki also defended the language President Biden used Wednesday, when he described actions of some governors to lift state-wide mask wearing mandates as the “behavior of Neanderthals.” Psaki said it was an expression of Biden’s “frustration and exasperation.”