Unemployment Claims Rise to 770,000 In The US

New reports have shown that 770,000 people signed up for unemployment benefits in America despite reported steadily recovering economy.

The report from the US Department of Labour on Thursday showed that jobless claims climbed from 725,000 from the week before.

Even the numbers look better since the depths of the recession last year, still, the report shows that employers in some industries continue to lay off workers. Before the pandemic struck, applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any one week.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 770,000, a sign that layoffs remain high even as much of the United States economy is steadily recovering from the recession sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly variations, dropped to 746,000, the lowest since late November.

A total of 4.1 million people are continuing to collect traditional state unemployment benefits, down 18,000 from the previous week. Including separate federal programmes that are intended to help workers displaced by the health crisis, 18.2 million Americans were receiving some form of jobless aid in the week of February 27, down by 1.9 million from the week before.

The continuing layoffs are occurring even as the overall job market has shown solid improvement. Last month, US employers added 379,000 jobs, the most since October and a sign that the economy is strengthening as consumers spend more and states and cities ease business restrictions.

Meanwhile, hopes are being raised by the promise of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package which would help to accelerate growth, especially with most adults this week receiving $1,400 stimulus cheques that should fuel more spending. An extension of $300 weekly unemployment benefits into early September will provide support, too, along with money for vaccines and treatments, school reopenings, state and local governments and ailing industries ranging from airlines to concert halls.

“Labor market strains are ongoing, but we expect filings [for unemployment aid] to start declining as restrictions are lifted and more normal operations resume,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a research note. “As businesses return to full capacity, job and income prospects will improve and, combined with fiscal support, will provide a powerful lift to the economy.”

At the same time, the nation is still roughly 9.5 million short of the number of jobs it had in February 2020. And Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell suggested Wednesday after the Fed’s latest policy meeting that the overall economic outlook remained cloudy.

“The state of the economy in two or three years is highly uncertain,” Powell said at a news conference after the Fed signalled that it expects to keep its key interest rate near zero through 2023 despite some solid economic gains and concerns about rising inflation pressures.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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