US Jobless Benefit Claims Hold Steady
November 6, 2020
U.S. unemployment benefit claims declined slightly
last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday,
but remain elevated by historical standards, as the
world’s biggest economy continues to face headwinds
wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.
A total of 751,000 jobless workers filed new
applications for unemployment compensation, down
7,000 from the revised figure of the week before. It
was the third straight week the number fell below
800,000 but remained above the highest pre-pandemic
figure in records that date back to the 1960s.
A total of 7.3 million workers remain unemployed, a
5% jobless rate, the Labor Department said. The
figure is a marked improvement from the pandemic low
point — a 14.7% jobless rate in April.
A week ago, the country’s Commerce Department
reported that the U.S. economy surged 7.4% from July
But U.S. economic growth is expected to slow in the
last three months of the year. Some businesses are
facing closing restrictions again as they did
earlier in the year, as the number of new
coronavirus cases surges to a record of more than
100,000 a day.
Government officials have been reluctant to curtail
business activity as occurred in the March-to-June
period during an earlier period of rising
infections. But some consumers have shunned in-store
shopping or eating out in restaurants, and many
entertainment events have been canceled for months,
leading to continued layoffs.
Even before Tuesday’s presidential and congressional
elections, President Donald Trump and fractious
Republican and Democratic lawmakers were unable to
reach a new deal for about $2 trillion in new
coronavirus relief aid, including federal boosts to
less generous state unemployment compensation.
Congress is set to meet again next week for a
post-election lame-duck session. Trump is locked in
a tight reelection contest against former Vice
President Joe Biden, which remains undecided, as are
some congressional elections.
a result, new assistance for the national economy
remains uncertain, although Republican Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who won reelection,
said he hopes Congress will approve more aid by the
end of 2020.
The third quarter economic advance partially offset
the 9% plunge in the April-to-June period when much
of the country’s economic life was shut down as the
coronavirus swept into the country from China and
Just ahead of the election, Trump tweeted that the
7.4% gain was the “Biggest and Best in the History
of our Country, and not even close. Next year will
Biden, however, said in a statement, “Yes, GDP rose
last quarter, but visits to food banks haven’t
slowed, and poverty has grown. African Americans and
Latinos still face double-digit unemployment rates.”
Biden, who is edging close to winning a majority in
the Electoral College to claim the presidency,
concluded, “The recovery is slowing if not stalling;
and the recovery that is happening is helping those
at the top but leaving tens of millions of working
families and small businesses behind."