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Unemployment benefits: Another 837,000 Americans filed for jobless claims last week

That was slightly fewer from the prior week, although last week’s figures notably do not include updated numbers from California, which paused processing initial claims for two weeks. The state is working on a large backlog in benefits claims and implementing fraud prevention. The state estimated its initial claims numbers by duplicating the prior week’s reported claims figures.

Claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that Congress created to help workers who wouldn’t usually be eligible for benefits, such as the self-employed, stood at 650,120.

Adding these together, there were 1.4 million total first-time claims for benefits last week, roughly even with the prior week.

Continued claims, which count workers who have filed for benefits for at least two consecutive weeks, stood at 11.8 million on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Adding up all the different government benefits, 26.5 million people received jobless aid in the week ended September 12, up by about half a million.

The number of people receiving money under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which helps workers who have exhausted their state benefit programs, increased again.

The slowing pace of the decline in initial jobless claims is another piece of evidence that the economic recovery is running out of steam.

Thursday’s Labor Department report on jobless claims is just the latest in this week’s report card on the labor market: the government’s jobs report — the last before the election — is due on Friday.

Economists expect 850,000 jobs were added back in September, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.2%, down from 8.4% in August.

But not all of the jobs figures are quite so dire, noted Indeed Hiring Lab economist AnnElizabeth Konkel. As of September 25, the trend in job postings on Indeed is 17.5% lower than it was at the same time in 2019 — the smallest gap with last year’s trend since late March.

That’s encouraging news. Every person able to go back to work is a win in this economy.

But for those still unable to return to a job — either because that job doesn’t exist anymore, or because of care needs and safety concerns for family members — things aren’t getting much better.

Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showed Thursday that personal incomes declined by 2.7% in August, after the government’s weekly supplemental $600 in jobless benefits expired at the end of July.

Congress has since been unable to agree on a deal to boost benefits again. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to bolster benefits, although by less money, by diverting funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But some states have already run out of their allotted cash.

This is bad news for the US economy, which relies heavily on consumer spending. If people have less money in their wallets that’s going to slow down the recovery.

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