With everyone being so focused on the close race to the White House this week, many have forgotten we’re currently in the middle of one of the worst health and economic crises in history. While we may not know who the next President of the United States is quite yet, if one thing is for sure, whoever it is will have to deal with the nation’s massive unemployment problem.
Last week, another 751,000 Americans claimed first-time unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the US Labor Department. Compared to the week prior those numbers are actually slightly decreased, however, the nation has watched hundreds of thousands of citizens lose their jobs every week for the past nine months, so many are wondering when they’ll receive some sort of relief.
Beyond that, 362,883 workers found out they weren’t eligible for regular state benefits that could be claimed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. If you add up those totals that’s 1.1 million Americans who filed first-time claims last week.
Economists have been adamant throughout this pandemic that one of their biggest concerns would be a plateauing of total initial claims due to a slowdown in the job market. This concern is now a stark reality for so many US residents who have been continuously unemployed and trying to keep their loved ones afloat in the middle of one of the worst global health crises in history.
Continued jobless claims, which account for workers who have applied for benefits two or more weeks in a row, reached 7.3 million, which is about half a million less than what it was the previous week. However, it’s important to note that even though the number of continued jobless claims has decreased that doesn’t necessarily mean that the amount of unemployed individuals has reduced.
In fact, compared to previous weeks that’s a much slower decline. One of the reasons these claims could be going down could be due to the fact that people have exhausted their state benefits and are now trying to take advantage of other government programs to help in the meantime. States commonly provide around 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.
These state-run programs have greatly benefited certain individuals who have run out of their Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which was obviously created as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the week of October 17th nearly 4 million Americans received PEUC payments, which was a 280,000 increase when compared to the week prior.
Many Americans are worried about the results of the 2020 election as well as what type of programs will be created with the New Year as the pandemic continues to worsen. Many of the various pandemic relief initiatives for unemployed individuals are set to expire at the end of 2020. Andrew Stettner is a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who recently spoke with the press about what the US needs to do for its people to help us stay afloat as a country.
“There are simply not enough jobs being created to support all of the workers running out of aid before the end of 2020. It is now time to reach a deal that keeps the lifelines of pandemic relief going into next year. We urgently need action before the holiday season.”
The government is set to publish its October job report this Friday, which economists are projecting to show an additional 600,000 jobs being created for unemployed individuals within the past month. However, even if those numbers hold true America would still be down by more than 10 million jobs when compared to the numbers in February right before the pandemic hit.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.