Unemployment claims in Washington state fall 13.4%, but recovery far from certain

Daniel Fowler
August 7, 2020

New applications for jobless benefits resumed their decline after two weeks of increases, hitting a new pandemic low in a surprise sign of improvement, but economists warn the battered U.S. job market recovery remains painfully slow.

Despite the lower numbers, millions still remain out of work and thousands continue to struggle in Florida with the state's unemployment system.

Unemployment remains high relative to this time previous year, when SC was averaging 2,548 new weekly claims in July 2019.

On July 31, the government's $600 weekly boost to regular unemployment benefits ran out.

Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics said the end of the benefits may have discouraged workers from submitting new applications.

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The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government. He added: "With such a prolonged and significant downturn, any substantial recovery will take many months, if not years".

Continuing claims, which measure sustained joblessness on a one-week lag, was down to about 16 million in the week ending July 25, the US Department of Labor said.

The state labor department has paid out $13.2 billion in benefits since March, including $3.2 billion from the state Unemployment Trust Fund and more than $8 billion in federally funded pandemic unemployment benefits, which have now expired for benefit weeks ending after July 25.

"Overall, without effective virus containment the recovery remains at risk from ongoing job losses that could further restrain incomes and spending".

The latest report for new weekly unemployment insurance claims covers the final week in which Americans were eligible for enhanced federal unemployment benefits as part of Congress's original Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March.

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