Another 884,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

America's jobs recovery might have hit a roadblock, as the number...

Posted: Sep 10, 2020 9:37 AM
Updated: Sep 10, 2020 10:45 AM

America's jobs recovery might have hit a roadblock, as the number of workers filing for first-time unemployment benefits was unchanged between last week and the one prior.

Another 884,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless aid on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. The number of claims filed was unchanged from the prior week.

Without the seasonal adjustment, weekly initial claims were slightly lower, but had still increased from the prior week.

That said, the headline number only counts claims for regular benefits that not everyone who lost their livelihood due to the pandemic has access to. That's why claims for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, that help workers like independent contractors, are so important. First-time claims under the PUA program totaled 838,916 last week, up from the prior week.

Adding PUA claims and the initial claims figure that is not seasonally adjusted, nearly 1.7 million workers filed initial claims for benefits last week.

Meanwhile, 13.4 million American workers filed claims for unemployment insurance for at least two weeks in a row. That's up slightly from the previous week and is not a great sign for the jobs recovery.

In the week ending August 22, a total of 29.6 million Americans were claiming some form of benefits under the government's various programs, the Labor Department said.

Government spending soars

Government spending on unemployment benefits soared to $53 billion in August, compared to just $2 billion the year before, and accounted for about half the increase in government spending last month, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

From April through August, unemployment benefits spending was $410 billion more than in the same five months in 2019.

Jobless aid was boosted by a weekly $600 until the end of July, when the expansion ran out. Since Congress hasn't been able to agree on a new stimulus bill, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to expand weekly payments again -- although by less money -- by diverting money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

While benefits from the president's Lost Wages Assistance program are starting to flow for some jobless workers, they're already ending for others. Texas, for example, has already announced the cessation of the weekly boost.

FEMA said states will be able to get six weeks of enhanced payments. So far, it has distributed $30 billion of the $44 billion available.

The number of states turning to the federal government for loans to fund their state benefits continues to grow. Some 15 states have borrowed a total of $28.8 billion to cover their state payments, which typically last 26 weeks. Georgia and New Mexico are among the states that began borrowing this month.

A total of 19 states have been authorized to take loans from the federal government. California leads the pack with an outstanding balance of $11.9 billion, followed by New York at $7.1 billion.

It's not uncommon for states' unemployment trust funds to run dry during economic downturns. But states must still pay benefits to their jobless residents, forcing them to turn to the federal government for loans.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2519197

Reported Deaths: 56077
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings33356710845
Queens31512310287
Suffolk2391793601
Nassau2141533292
Bronx2075006750
New York1679194635
Westchester1435542340
Erie1061391945
Richmond888381935
Monroe840451184
Orange57452909
Rockland53047779
Onondaga51911760
Dutchess35563497
Albany30760389
Oneida28557586
Broome24353405
Niagara23976397
Saratoga20195199
Ulster17248278
Schenectady16673227
Rensselaer14761167
Putnam1246997
Chautauqua12379174
Oswego11622112
Chemung10862155
St. Lawrence10479126
Steuben10080173
Ontario9321110
Jefferson881475
Cayuga8640107
Sullivan844783
Wayne814084
Cattaraugus7678113
Genesee6983132
Herkimer6774128
Clinton667939
Tompkins649159
Fulton6296102
Madison6164102
Montgomery5940140
Livingston570171
Warren542884
Cortland532279
Tioga506171
Columbia4998111
Chenango467486
Washington458767
Allegany458496
Otsego456254
Greene437186
Wyoming437158
Orleans432087
Franklin425620
Lewis358638
Delaware354647
Seneca273363
Essex229231
Schoharie228921
Yates163128
Schuyler153217
Hamilton4363
Unassigned14628
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