New jobless claims increase for first time in five weeks

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Jobless claims increase, for first time since October to 742,000. The jobless claims data was released by the Department of Labor on Thursday. The increase is significantly more than the 710,000 claims that economists had predicted. Analysts have expressed concerns that the labor market recovery continues to be unsteady ... ... amid what seems to be a new wave of coronavirus infections. Eight months into this crisis, there continues to be tremendous economic uncertainty that’s regularly forcing hundreds of thousands into unemployment, AnnElizabeth Konkel, Economist at Indeed Hiring Lab, via NBC News. Since October, deaths due to COVD-19 have increased by 42 percent. With several federal government assistance programs set to expire soon, analysts are calling for the passage of another economic stimulus package

New U.S. Department of Labor figures released Thursday morning show another 742,000 Americans filed first-time jobless claims last week, an increase of 31,000 from the week before and ending a five-week decline.

The number of new jobless claims continued to hover below the symbolic 1 million mark for the 12th straight week, but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt across all aspects of the American economy. The U.S. surpassed 250,000 coronavirus deaths Wednesday, as the pandemic continues its long-predicted autumn surge from national health care officials.

The Labor Department’s report Thursday showed that applications for benefits rose from 711,000 in the previous week. Claims had soared to 6.9 million in March when the pandemic first intensified. Before the pandemic, applications typically hovered about 225,000 a week.

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Spending on 30 million credit and debit cards tracked by JPMorgan Chase fell 7.4% earlier this month compared with a year ago. That marked a sharp drop from two weeks earlier. Consumer sentiment also declined in early November and is down nearly 21% from a year ago, according to a University of Michigan survey.

The number of people who are continuing to receive traditional unemployment benefits fell to 6.4 million, the government said, from 6.8 million. That shows that more Americans are finding jobs and no longer receiving unemployment aid. But it also indicates that many jobless people have used up their state unemployment aid — which typically expires after six months — and have transitioned to a federal extended benefits program that lasts 13 more weeks.

The worsening viral outbreak coincides with the impending expiration of two federal unemployment programs at year’s end that could eliminate benefits for 9.1 million people, according to a report from The Century Foundation. Congress has so far failed to agree on any new stimulus package for jobless individuals and struggling businesses. The cutoff of aid will sharply reduce income for the unemployed, force a further reduction in their spending and perhaps weaken the economy.

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First-time jobless claims fall to 751,000 as GDP soars 33.1%

The expiration of benefits will make it harder for the unemployed to make rent payments, afford food or keep up with utility bills. Most economists agree that because unemployed people tend to quickly spend their benefits, such aid is effective in boosting the economy.

Cutting off benefits with several million people still unemployed would be unusually early compared with previous recessions. In the Great Recession of 2008-2009, the government extended unemployment benefits to 99 weeks, and the additional aid lasted through 2013. When that program ended, about 1.3 million people lost benefits -- a fraction of the number who would lose their aid at the end of this year.

In March and April, when the pandemic erupted in the United States, tens of millions of people applied for jobless aid. Though many of them have been rehired or have landed new jobs, those who haven’t found work began exhausting their six months of state aid as early as September.

ExploreWH chief of staff: ‘Can’t guarantee’ there won’t be a Dec. 12 government shutdown

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to be at odds over the passage of a $3 trillion stimulus relief bill, which President-elect Joe Biden is supporting.

In its weekly internal report, the White House Coronavirus Task Force warned of an “aggressive, unrelenting” spread of the coronavirus across the country “without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration,” a senior administration official said Tuesday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, said the task force concluded existing efforts to slow the spread “are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve” and that Thanksgiving travel and gatherings could “amplify transmission considerably.”

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The next few days will tell us a lot about whether Congress can pull off the bipartisan, bicameral appropriations process that I believe both sides would like to deliver.”

Top government officials are hoping to secure overall funding totals for a massive 12-bill spending package, which would prevent a government shutdown Dec. 11, by the end of the week.

“Our colleagues on the committee and their counterparts in the House need to continue their bicameral discussions and settle on top-line dollar amounts for each separate bill,” McConnell said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “I hope they will be able to reach this broad agreement by the end of this very week.”

The relief bill was passed by the Democratic-controlled House earlier this year. It would provide $3 trillion in relief for state and local governments, direct cash payments to individuals, assistance for renters and more. It was not taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate. Negotiations on a relief package between Congress and the White House stalled before the election.

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