Latest Unemployment Claims Show Layoffs On Rise As Coronavirus Surges

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Initial unemployment claims rose for the first time in 15 weeks last week, increasing to 1.4 million, a rise of 109,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Some 31.8 million Americans were collecting unemployment benefits.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the unemployment rate for the week ending July 11 at 11.1%, on par with the June rate. The July unemployment rate will be announced Aug. 7, but likely won’t reflect the recent rise.

For the week ending July 18, BLS said the unadjusted number of initial claims fell 141,816 to 1.37 million, about half of the expected decrease. In the comparable week for 2019, 196,382 initial claims were filed.

Forty-nine states reported 974,999 initial claims for pandemic unemployment assistance, which will be unavailable to future claimants after this week unless Congress acts.

“There is one clear takeaway from this morning’s unemployment insurance report: Not extending the weekly $600 benefit supplement would be unconscionable,” Andrew Stettner, an unemployment insurance expert at the Century Foundation told International Business Times. “For the last three months of the acute COVID-19 crisis, jobless families and our economy have counted on the $600 boost, both to keep the lights on and to keep the economy from a Great Depression-like crash. Little has changed since then.”

Coronavirus began surging in the West and South in June, prompting government officials to pause or roll back economic reopening plans, triggering a new wave of business closures.

“Just as it has been heartbreaking to see the nation still struggling with the devastating and all too often deadly health aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the persistence of elevated new unemployment claims shows the toll the virus continues to take on the economy,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com.

For the week ending July 4, extended benefits were available in 52 states and territories. Nearly 13.2 million people claimed pandemic assistance in 48 states while 940,113 claimed pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.

Unemployment for the week ending July 4 was highest in Puerto, Nevada, Hawaii, Georgia and California. The largest increases in initial claims were reported in Florida, Georgia, California, Washington and Indiana while the biggest decreases were recorded in Maryland, Texas, New jersey, Michigan and Louisiana.

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