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Weekly unemployment claims have been dropping to the lowest level since March



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The number of people claiming U.S. unemployment compensation dropped to 709,000 last week a still-high yet lowest level since March and an indication that the labour market could be steadily healing.

The numbers are associated with a sharp resurgence in reported viral infections at an all-time peak above 120,000 per day. Events are rising in 49 states and deaths are rising in 39. The country has now reported 240,000 deaths from viruses and 10.3 million confirmed infections.

Last week’s new unemployment insurance claims were down from 757,000 the previous week the Labor Department said Thursday. The still-elevated statistic indicates that eight months after the global crisis of the pandemic, many businesses are still cutting jobs.

The number of individuals who want to collect conventional unemployment insurance has fallen to 6.8 million, the government reported, from 7.2 million.

This means that more Americans are seeking work and are no longer getting unemployment benefits. However, it also means that many unemployed workers have used up their state unemployment insurance—which normally expires after six months—and has moved to a federal extended benefits package that lasts for 13 weeks.

The viral epidemic is threatening to bring an end to the change in the labor market in recent months. The unemployment rate fell to 6.9 per cent in October, while employers added 600,000 new workers.

Even so, weekly claims for jobless benefits persist at consistently elevated levels. Applications are likely to involve certain people who lost their employment weeks earlier but had to wait for states to process their claims. Any of them could not have applied for compensation until last week, even though they were laid off earlier.

Staff may still get assistance while they are already employed, but their hours have been cut. Still more could have lost work more than once as they re-file insurance, they may qualify as a new argument.

The labour market remains badly impaired. The economy already has approximately 10 million fewer workers than it did before the pandemic—a number that exceeds all the jobs that disappeared in the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

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Economic stimulus, in the form of federal unemployment insurance, assistance for small businesses and restrictions for most people, has largely run out. And unless Congress increases its benefits, millions of unemployed citizens will run out of assistance before the end of the year.

Among them was Victoria Perez, who worked for two distribution jobs before the pandemic hit. Having lost both jobs in the spring, she now lives with her children in city-supported housing near Oakland, California, and strives to escape homelessness.

City shelter, given to people at elevated risk of coronavirus, lasts only until December. Perez, 38, is a survivor of cancer.

“The pandemic has destroyed it she said. “I did a lot of good, and then nothing.”

Before the pandemic, Perez delivered lunch from restaurants to office employees. She also had a job with an organization named Replate, taking food leftovers from San Francisco’s tech companies to homeless shelters. Both careers had dried up once everybody had begun living from home.

She did some supermarket delivery for DoorDash, but she stopped doing so out of fear of catching the virus.

Perez currently earns just $91 in jobless help every two weeks. She recently started working with Replate again for around 15 to 20 hours a week.

“It’s not anything compared to what I had before but it’s better than zero,” she said.

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