COVID-19 Danger Continues to Drive Joblessness in US

Daniel Fowler
September 18, 2020

The report showed the number of Americans actively collecting state jobless aid slipped, with continuing claims down to 12.63m, from 13.5m for the week that ended September 5. And the number of people receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the program for those not normally eligible for benefits, declined by more than 200,000.

The United States saw a surge in workers filing new benefit claims amid the widespread business shutdowns in March to stop the spread of Covid-19, and though that wave is well past its peak, weekly filings remain at levels far above the worst of the 2008-2010 global financial crisis. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said more fiscal support was likely to be needed for the economy.

More evidence surfaced on Thursday of the widening divide between the haves and have-nots in the United States, with data signalling an economic recovery that is going well for the well-off while leaving millions of jobless Americans behind.

Century Foundation senior fellow Andrew Stettner told IBT Thursday's report "represents a major warning sign about the state of the economic recovery".

Continuing claims, which are reported with a one week lag behind initial claims, fell 916,000 to 12.63 million. Before that, it last reached a high-point during the US oil crisis in the 1970s, topping off at 10.7 percent from November 1976 to January 1977. Production at factories also cooled last month. The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies.

An even broader figure - which includes continuing claims for benefits across all programs including PUA and state rolls - increased to 29.8 million in the week ended August 29.

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A $600 weekly unemployment benefits supplement ended in July and was replaced with a $300 weekly subsidy, which is not available in all states and is expected to run out of funding this month. A program to help businesses with wages lapsed in August, while $25 billion in government assistance for airline payrolls expires this month.

More than a quarter-million people in Ohio are still unemployed, according to the most recent unemployment data released by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Unemployment has disproportionately affected low-wage workers, who are typically renters, limiting the hit from the pandemic on the housing market.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell 1.8 percent to 8.4 percent.

Since, the jobless rate has settled back into the upper single digits. States were instructed to apply for three weeks of benefits at a time, beginning August 1, and apply each week thereafter until the fund was depleted.

COLUMBUS, Ohio-Initial and continued unemployment claims in Ohio each dropped by more than 9% last week, state records show, indicating the state's job market is improving. Before the pandemic, the record high was 695,000, set in 1982.

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