Jobless claims are dropping, but 16.86 million still need help

Washington (PAI) — The number of new claims for state and federal unemployment assistance dropped again in the week ending April 24, the Labor Department reported. But even with four straight weeks of decline, some 16.855 million workers are still receiving aid, and at least 1.206 million others have applied for assistance.

Combined, the numbers show the economy is recovering and more workers are returning to their jobs, or getting new jobs, as firms reopen 14 months after the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of 50 percent of the economy and sent 22 million people into unemployment.

But the number of checks state unemployment agencies and the federal government are doling out still means one of every eight workers still needs assistance. The $300 federal supplement to weekly unemployment checks is set to end just after Labor Day. In some “red” states, like Missouri, Republican governors have announced plans to end the larger payment before then. Gov. Mike Parson announced Missouri would no longer included the federal supplement in unemployment checks after June 12.

The pandemic appears to be receding, as community immunity takes hold with the widening spread of anti-virus vaccinations. And the federal Centers for Disease Control felt confident enough to ease some of its recommended, but not required, restrictions on gatherings, restaurants and schools.

Between March 13, 2020,  when the coronavirus pandemic was declared and the economy started its steep slide, and May 13 of this year 32.852 million people — almost one of every 10 — had tested positive for the virus. And 584,475 have died.

Economic Policy Institute senior analyst Elise Gould, senior analyst with the Economic Policy Institute, pointed out the day before, commenting on job turnover,  noted the number of job seekers – 9.8 million – exceeds the 8.1 million vacancies, another sign the economy still hasn’t fully recovered.

“This translates into a job-seekers ratio of 1.2 unemployed workers to every job opening. Put another way, for every 12 workers who were officially counted as unemployed, there were only available jobs for 10 of them. That means, no matter what they did, there were no jobs for 1.6 million unemployed workers.”


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