With the resurgence of the coronavirus in the US, citizens seeking unemployment benefits reached a weekly-high since September, with 885,000 new applications. The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of applications increased from 862,000 the previous week.
In another major hit to the American economy, more and more citizens are losing their streams of income due to the pandemic. After nine months since the virus paralyzed the economy, many employers are still slashing jobs as the pandemic forces more business restrictions and leads many consumers to stay home. The number of claims was much higher than the 800,000 that economists had expected.
The whopping new figure is a colossal high as compared to March, just before the pandemic started wreaking havoc, with just about 225,000 weekly jobless claims. The far-higher current pace is an ominous indication of the employment market being under immense stress, leading to diminished job security for many.
“U.S. weekly jobless claims continue to head in the wrong direction,″ Edward Moya, an analyst at the currency trading firm OANDA, wrote in a research note. “The labor market outlook is bleak as the winter wave of the virus is going to lead to more shutdowns.″
With several states and cities issuing and reinstating mask mandates, limiting the size of gatherings, restricting restaurant dining, closing gyms, or reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores, and other businesses, the economy is continuing to stumble down a steep slope. Closer to home, New York’s recent closures of Indoor dining, for example, is further going to hinder the employment opportunities for numerous workers in the restaurant sector.
As it stands, many jobless Americans are now collecting checks under two federal programs that were created this year in order to provide assistance to those suffering job losses due to the pandemic, but these programs are set to expire a day after Christmas. Until and unless Congress acts to extend that aid, benefits will end completely for an estimated 9.1 million unemployed people.
On Wednesday, congressional negotiators closed in on a $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package that would deliver additional help to businesses, $300 per week jobless checks, and $600 stimulus payments to most Americans, but the deal was yet to be finalized.