U.S. recovery more tenuous as jobless claims rise, incomes fall

26 Novembre, 2020, 06:09 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • US jobless claims rise to 778,000 as pandemic worsens | The Sacramento Bee

The Labor Department's report Wednesday said jobless claims climbed from 748,000 the week before.

The job market faces additional hurdles as states and cities restrict business activity and hospitalizations spike.

"With infections continuing to rise at an elevated pace and curbs on business operations widening, layoffs are likely to pick up over coming weeks", said Rubeela Farooqi, chief USA economist at High Frequency Economics.

The benefits, part of a more than US$3 trillion government coronavirus relief package which has largely expired, contributed to record economic growth in the third quarter.

"Seeing the combination of a rise in the number of weekly filings for unemployment benefits and an increase in the number of long-term filers is quite concerning and it points to a critical situation as we approach the end of the year, at which point pending any policy decisions, benefits for close to 14 million people will expire", said Gregory Daco, chief USA economist at Oxford Economics.

Even though the unemployment rate has decreased in recent months, reaching 6.9 percent in October, Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics warned that weekly data shows a labor market under stress. It shows that more Americans are finding jobs and no longer receiving unemployment aid. Personal income dropped last month and could decline further with about 13.6 million Americans due to lose government-funded unemployment benefits a day after Christmas.

Though the claims report showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid declined 299,000 to 6.071 million in the week ending November 14, that was because many have exhausted their eligibility, which is limited to six months in most states.

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The data firm Womply says that 21% of small businesses were shuttered at the start of this month, reflecting a steady increase from June's 16% rate.

Wednesday's data indicate the economic rebound is becoming more tenuous amid soaring coronavirus cases, fresh lockdowns and an extended deadlock in Congress over a new stimulus package. The arrival of cold weather in much of the country could further worsen the health crisis.

The data also said more than 466,000 people moved from the time-limited regular unemployment benefits as of the week ended November 7 to a special program passed during the pandemic that provides aid to the long-term unemployed, which will also expire at year's end.

The Conference Board, a business research group, reported Tuesday that consumer confidence weakened in November, pulled down by lowered expectations for the next six months.

The expiration of benefits will make it harder for the unemployed to make rent payments, afford food or keep up with utility bills.

All told, almost 20.5 million people are receiving some type of unemployment aid.

When the viral outbreak struck in early spring, employers slashed 22 million jobs in March and April, sending the unemployment rate rocketing to 14.7%, the highest rate since the Great Depression. Since then, the economy has regained more than 12 million jobs.

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