WASHINGTON – Jobless benefits claims surged in the US last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday, as the world’s largest economy remains on an uneven recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The agency said a total of 419,000 jobless workers sought government compensation, up 51,000 from the revised figure from the week before. The new figure followed a decline in the number of claims in recent weeks and topped the total recorded 16 months ago just before the coronavirus got in the way of the US economy and shuttered many US businesses.
Total weekly claims have been tracked unevenly in recent weeks, but overall, jobless claims, a proxy for worker layoffs, have fallen by more than 40% since early April, compared with pre-pandemic levels. Up enough.
About 9.5 million people in the US are unemployed and looking for work. The government says there are also 9.2 million job opportunities, although the skill sets of the unemployed do not match the needs of employers.
The US added 850,000 jobs in June, with an unemployment rate of 5.9%. Some employers are offering new hires cash bonuses for taking jobs as the economy improves and consumers are willing to spend.
US economy boomed last month as workers saw wage gains
Despite steady gains from the job market, unemployment remains well above the 3.5% rate it remained in place before the pandemic struck
State governors and municipal officials across the US are easing coronavirus restrictions, in many cases allowing businesses to fully reopen to customers for the first time in a year. This may lead to more recruitment of workers.
In a boost to economic recovery, nearly 60% of US adults are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, although the pace of vaccination has fallen from its peak several weeks ago, worrying health experts and government officials.
Now, the delta version of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, infecting thousands of people who have not been vaccinated.
Officials in many states are offering a variety of incentives to lure the unvaccinated, including entering a lucrative lottery for cash and free college tuition. The US did not meet President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of adult Americans with at least one vaccination shot until the July 4th Independence Day holiday. That figure is just shy of 68.4%, with Biden and health officials often calling for more people to be vaccinated.
With businesses reopening, many employers are reporting labor shortages, especially for low-paying jobs such as restaurant servers and retail clerks. Biden suggested at a CNN town hall with voters in Ohio on Wednesday night that employers having trouble finding enough workers need to offer workers more money to agree to accept job openings. Might be possible.
The federal government approved sending $300-a-week supplemental unemployment benefits to unemployed workers in early September on top of less generous state-by-state payments.
But at least 25 of the 50 states, all led by Republican governors, are ending participation in the federal pay program, arguing that the stipend allows workers to earn more money by returning to work and thus by not filling out the available damage recovery. job vacancies.
Some economists say, however, that other factors prevent people from returning to work, such as a lack of childcare or fear of contracting the coronavirus as the delta variant, first detected in India, infects more people.
The economic picture in the US has progressed as money from Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package filters through the economy. The measure has boosted consumer spending, as millions of Americans, but the highest-paid, are now receiving $1,400 stimulus checks from the government or have already sent extra cash.
With more money in their wallets and more people getting vaccinated, Americans are getting back to some normalcy, going to restaurants and spending money on items they hadn’t bought for a year.
Biden is backing a plan to spend $1.2 trillion to repair deteriorating roads and bridges and build new broadband service, a deal agreed with a group of centrist lawmakers. But lawmakers have struggled to reach an agreement on how to pay for the package. With its approval still possible, it could add thousands of construction jobs to the US economy.
Last week, Democratic lawmakers unveiled a $3.5 trillion plan for more health care coverage for older Americans, increased financial benefits for most American families with young children, and more spending to advance clean energy. But Republicans are equally opposed to its cost and Biden’s plan to pay with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
The so-called human infrastructure measure would win the Senate only if Democrats voted as a unified 50-member bloc, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting a decisive tie-breaking vote in a politically divided Senate, as no Republican currently supports it. does not do.