The number of Americans claiming initial unemployment benefits rose to 853,000 last week, a sign that layoffs are increasing as COVID infections increase.
The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits for the first time from states rose to 853,000 last week, an increase of 137,000 from the previous week’s reading, the US Department of Labor said Thursday. .
The sharp rise in weekly jobless claims indicates that layoffs are increasing as measures to contain COVID-19 are implemented across the country, undermining business activity and sowing uncertainty in the outlook.
The number of Americans who collectively collect state unemployment benefits – a measure known as continuous claims that delays initial claims by a week – rose from 230,000 to 5,757,000 – the first increase since August.
The surge in jobless claims comes at a precarious time for the country’s economic recovery and the millions of unemployed Americans who have been left financially vulnerable after key federal financial bailouts expired this summer.
They are now looking at the barrel of new and improved federal unemployment protections expiring at the end of this month, including programs that extend state unemployment benefits beyond six months for an additional 13 weeks and provide assistance to workers. independent contractors and construction workers.
“When these programs expire, millions of these workers and their families will be financially devastated,” said Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Institute for Progressive Economic Policy in a blog post.
The number of people receiving assistance from state and federal programs fell to just over 19 million for the week ending November 21.
“The numbers in the allegations overestimate the unique number of individuals receiving aid, but millions stand to lose aid if policymakers fail to deliver another coronavirus relief program that expands these programs,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Senior US Economist at Oxford Economics in a note to clients.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress remain at odds over a new round of virus relief that many economists urge to keep the recovery on track.
Millions of unemployed Americans face a bleak job market. The US economy added just 245,000 jobs in November. And only 12.3 million of the roughly 22 million jobs lost as a result of lockdowns in March and April have been recovered.
The longer people are unemployed, the more lasting the potential for scaring off their working lives as their skills erode and their networks dry up.
“It is important to remember that the user interface [unemployment insurance] is a great stimulant, ”said Shierholz. “Restoring and expanding UI provisions in the event of a pandemic would create or save over five million jobs.”