Unemployment Claims Down, But Recovery Remains Uneven

Gene J. Puskar  AP

"Our actions to tackle this fraud have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and we will continue to coordinate our investigation with the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Attorney".

Continuing claims, the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid, fell by 916,000 to about 12.6 million, below the 13 million expected by Refinitiv economists.

The report comes as a $300-a-week federal unemployment boost that President Trump issued at the beginning of August is beginning to expire in some states.

However, it does not include claims filed under other federal aid programs, including a program that provides benefits to those usually ineligible like the self-employed or gig workers.

The total number of people claiming unemployment insurance went up by about 100,000 to 29.7 million, as of August 29, the most recent week available for this statistic.

In addition, California's figures show a wide discrepancy with nationally-reported data on continuing PUA claims in California.

Century Foundation senior fellow Andrew Stettner told IBT Thursday's report "represents a major warning sign about the state of the economic recovery".

A third report from the Philadelphia Fed on Thursday showed factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region moderating in September, though manufacturers remained optimistic about growth over the next six months.

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US stocks were trading lower.

As of September 12, out-of-work residents have received over $6.8 billion in CARES Act payments.

"Failure on the part of policymakers to enact another fiscal relief package poses significant downside risks to the economy and labor market as the recovery appears to be losing momentum", said Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics. A program to help businesses with wages lapsed in August, while $25 billion in government assistance for airline payrolls expires this month.

The economy added 1.371 million jobs in August and has recouped 10.6 million of the 22.2 million jobs lost at the depth of the coronavirus crisis.

Despite the improvement, last week's claims were still about four-times higher than they were before the pandemic.

More than a quarter-million people in Ohio are still unemployed, according to the most recent unemployment data released by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. But the decrease in the number of jobless people and the jobless rate mainly stemmed from the labor force falling by almost 90,000 people.

The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, collapsed at an annual rate of 31.7% from April through June, by far the worst three months on record, as millions of jobs disappeared.

The housing market is being fueled by record low interest rates and a pandemic-fueled migration to suburbs and low density areas.

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