Initial Jobless Claims Up

Initial unemployment claims rose by 53,000 to 898,000 last week

Some recovery, huh?

The much-touted recovery is increasingly looking like a dead cat bounce:

The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since late August, with fresh layoffs adding to other signs the economic recovery is losing steam as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Claims increased to 898,000 last week, holding well above the pre-pandemic high point of 695,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. After declining from a peak of near 7 million in March, weekly claims have clocked in between 800,000 and 900,000 for more than a month as companies readjust their head counts.

The economy more broadly is flashing signs of slowdown. Monthly job gains have cooled recently, as has growth in consumer spending and factory output.

“The jobless claims continued to reflect very difficult labor market conditions,” said Kathy Bostjancic, an economist at Oxford Economics. “It’s representative of still uncertain and challenging economic conditions at large.”

The number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, which cover most workers, fell to about 10 million in the week ended Oct. 3 from 11.2 million the previous week, according to the Labor Department. So-called continuing claims declined throughout the summer, indicating employers continued to hire workers.

However, some of the recent declines in continuing claims represent individuals who have exhausted the maximum duration of payments available through regular state programs, and are now collecting money through a federal program that provides an extra 13 weeks of benefits. About 2.8 million people were receiving aid through this extended-benefits program in the week ended Sept. 26—the largest number since the program began this spring, Labor Department data show.


This suggests many Americans are experiencing long spells of joblessness and relying on unemployment insurance to keep paying bills. The extended-benefits program is set to expire at the end of this year without additional federal stimulus. ………


Weekly figures can be volatile, but the four-week moving average for claims rose as well, to 866,250, a sign more workers are losing their jobs.

“We’ve seen a number of large firms report layoffs, some of it because the pace of recovery is slower than maybe they had hoped for,” Ms. Bostjancic said.

A Wall Street Journal survey found more than half of business and academic economists polled this month said they didn’t expect the labor market to regain all the jobs from the pandemic until 2023 or later. That is a slower timeline than economists predicted six months ago.

There will be no V-shaped recovery.

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