The U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly report on Thursday showed that the number of initial applications for unemployment benefits in the country rose to 1.106 million in the week ended August 15, which is worse than the forecast of economists at 925 thousand and worse than the previous week, when the figure of 971 thousand was published. The states with the worst statistics were: California, New Jersey and Texas.
The sharp increase in the number of applications in March reflects the conditions when the COVID-19 pandemic began in the country and the government had to “close” entire industries to prevent an increase in the incidence.
The increase in the number of new unemployed last week coincides with an increase in the number of people infected with the new coronavirus. In addition, the difficult situation in which the Americans found themselves, those who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, may now intensify, since at the end of July the additional payments of $ 600 per week to the traditional unemployment benefits expired.
On August 8, President Donald Trump issued several orders to support the country’s labor market, which include additional payments of $ 400 a week for Americans who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Payments of $ 300 are covered by state of fund for disaster management, the other $ 100 should be covered by budgets of the state, however, some state governors have declared the lack of financial capacity in terms of a pandemic.
The aid program has so far been approved in only seven states, in addition, experts note that public funding may run out in a few weeks. Congress still has not made the decision with this issue because of differences between the parties.
Thereby, it is not entirely clear how many Americans will receive additional payments, at the same time, analysts point out that the decline in American incomes will have a strong impact on retail sales and the US economy.
An optimistic signal is maintaining the trend of declining re-applications for unemployment benefits: to 14.84 million for the week, ended August 8, which is below the forecast of economists at 15.0 million and the lowest level since the first week of April. The unemployment rate in the US fell to 10.2%, or the lowest level since April. The 4-week average value of applications also decreased: from 1.25 million to 1.18 million, the lowest level since March.
However, experts note that the recovery of the labor market is slow and still far from the level of “pandemic”, when the weekly number of initial applications for unemployment benefits averaged less than 250 thousand.
Only 9.3 million of the 22 million jobs lost between February and April have been restored so far, and the economy has experienced the biggest downturn since the end of World War II in the second quarter, declining by almost 33% year on year.
Economists of Jefferies wrote that they will wait for further reports, because “the next few weeks will tell how fundamental the recent improvement has been” and what to expect, after the end of the additional unemployment benefits.
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