Key Highlights

  • New unemployment claims increased +30,000 from last week, first time in over one month that claims increased week-over-week
  • Department of Labor reported +743,000 new state unemployment claims filed
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program directed at self-employed and independent Contractors reported +320,000 new claims
  • 12M currently unemployed workers to lose benefits on day after Christmas

 Last week, +743,000 new unemployment benefits claims were filed, according to the Department of Labor. This number of new relief claims is +30,000 more claims than filed the week before. Additionally, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, a federal program designed to provide relief for independent contractors and self employed workers, added +320,000 claims. Tallying these two numbers of relief claims equals to more than +1M.

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Clearly, unemployment numbers are going in the wrong direction and with a third wave of COVID resurgence happening in most of the country, reactivated restrictions on business activity are leading to additional job cuts. Michelle Meyer, head of US economics at Bank of America, said, “The economy has made significant progress in healing from the COVID shock, but there is still more work to be done.

 On top of these increasing new unemployment claims, 12M existing jobless workers will see their unemployment benefits disappear by the end of the year. Two federal programs created under the CARES Act in March are set to expire the day after Christmas.  These programs are the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance currently serving some 7.3M unemployed gig, self employed and independent contract workers and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program currently serving 4.6M unemployed, according to the Century Foundation.

 Andrew Stettner, senior fellow with the Century Foundation, said that these two programs are “…the last lifelines available to millions of Americans in desperate need. It will be a crippling end to one of our darkest years.”

The California Policy Lab, an organization that works with state and local governments, reported that close to 45% of all California workers have filed for state unemployment benefits since the pandemic outbreak in March while 83% of African American workers in California have applied for unemployment benefits during this same time frame. The good news is that many of these workers are now employed…the bad news is that the expiration of these two programs on the day after Christmas will affect some 750,000 Californians.

With the US Senate now on its Thanksgiving break, it is unlikely that any currently in-place unemployment assistance programs will be extended. It is also unlikely that the Congress as a whole will pass any new relief passage for anyone until after the presidential inauguration on January 20.

Thanks to the Department of Labor, The New York Times and National Public Radio.

Also read: 26% of Labor Force Now Out of Work, Future Implications of Working from Anywhere (WFA), End of $600 Unemployment Bonus Could Push Millions Over Cliff

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