The latest data adds up to 10 straight weeks where the weekly total for those seeking unemployment benefits has fallen below 1 million, after months of historic highs that peaked at a record 7 million first-time unemployment claims in March.
Continuing claims, which show ongoing unemployment totals, also trended lower last week, after hitting a high of almost 25 million earlier this year. However, according to the Labor Department, this data could also mean that claimants have used up their allotted weeks of regular state unemployment and moved on to a different compensation program.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, about 22 million jobs have been lost, with just over 10 million jobs yet to be recovered. Analysts are now waiting on the closely watched monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, expected to be released on Friday.
The report is expected to show the economy gained about 600,000 jobs in October, according to NBC News. The unemployment rate is expected to inch down to 7.7%, from 7.9% in September.
Inaction at the federal level
With the economy still sluggish, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Congress has failed to provide more aid for struggling individuals and businesses. To add to the misery – many unemployed workers have exhausted their state benefits and are getting rolled onto other programs to bridge the gap.
But what is really going to hurt those workers without jobs is the expiration at the end of this year of the various pandemic initiatives to help the unemployed. One such program called the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC), gave out benefits to some 4 million Americans in the week ending October 17, an increase of 280,000 from the previous week, according to CNN.
“There are simply not enough jobs being created to support all of the workers running out of aid before the end of 2020. With the election behind us, it is now time to reach a deal that keeps the lifelines of PEUC and PUA going into next year. We urgently need action before the holiday season,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, in emailed comments.