Another 803,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

Claims for unemployment benefits fell across most categories in Wednesday's Labor Department re...

Posted: Dec 23, 2020 9:22 AM
Updated: Dec 23, 2020 11:45 AM

Claims for unemployment benefits fell across most categories in Wednesday's Labor Department report. Still the job market recovery has stalled while more than 20 million Americans need aid to make ends meet.

Another 803,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis.

That was a drop off from the week before but still nearly four times the claims during the same period in 2019, and yet another sign that the US job recovery has run into serious trouble.

During normal times, seasonal adjustments help smooth out wobbles in economic data and make it easier to read and compare. But during the pandemic, this trick hasn't worked so well. Without seasonal adjustments, initial claims were much higher -- 869,398 -- last week, albeit still lower than the week before.

On top of that, 397,511 workers filed for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides aid to groups that aren't usually eligible for jobless benefits, such as the self-employed. That number is not adjusted for seasonal swings.

Added together, 1.3 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week on an unadjusted basis.

Continued claims, which count workers who have applied for benefits for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 5.3 million, slightly lower than in the prior week.

Congress agreed on a new round of stimulus to combat the fallout from the pandemic over the weekend. It would include an extension of the unemployment benefits that millions of Americans need to make ends meet. Benefits created specifically for the pandemic are otherwise slated to expire in just a matter of days.

However, President Donald Trump's complaints about the bill, delivered on video via Twitter on Tuesday, raised the risk of more economic turmoil, not to mention a government shutdown. Trump asked Congress to amend the bill and up the amounts paid in stimulus checks.

A mixed economic picture

The economic agenda was stacked on Wednesday ahead of the Christmas holiday, and the picture was very mixed.

Americans' personal incomes fell by 1.1%, or $221.8 billion, in November, far more than the 0.3% contraction economists had expected.

'A rapidly worsening health situation, weakening income, depleted savings for lower income families and cooler weather led consumers to slam their wallets shut in November,' wrote Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, in a note to clients.

Incomes decreased as Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses declined and government social benefits fell, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The bottom line is that 'American households cut their holiday shopping early this year as new restrictions took effect, though businesses are likely still spending,' said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO.

'The next two months could also be grim, with all hopes resting on the vaccine rollout and a new fiscal deal,' he said.

Personal consumptions expenditures contracted by 0.4%, or $63.3 billion.

Meanwhile, orders for durable goods such as machinery rose more than expected -- by 0.9% -- in November, led by orders in the transportation sector. Stripping out transport orders, the total number fell slightly below what economists had expected.

The economic recovery continues in an uneven and patchy manner, both for businesses as well as workers. As the year is drawing to a close and the virus continues to spread, economists predict a few more difficult months.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2012806

Reported Deaths: 51732
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings26711410025
Queens2656739604
Suffolk1945123323
Nassau1782353121
Bronx1760716405
New York1330424342
Westchester1262782246
Erie835241718
Richmond713901760
Monroe617161036
Orange46388782
Rockland45849946
Onondaga36254663
Dutchess28147438
Albany23800347
Oneida21556498
Niagara18486335
Broome17559348
Saratoga14517163
Ulster13159244
Schenectady12471193
Rensselaer10745136
Putnam1027491
Chautauqua8459137
Chemung7209133
Oswego703490
Ontario693992
Steuben6355142
St. Lawrence624695
Sullivan621070
Cayuga591590
Jefferson548765
Wayne530467
Cattaraugus521382
Genesee5102121
Herkimer4946107
Clinton458233
Madison432186
Fulton412288
Tompkins407749
Livingston403858
Montgomery3923117
Columbia3848100
Cortland356960
Tioga345058
Warren341856
Wyoming328251
Otsego322147
Allegany320483
Greene315674
Chenango313874
Washington287955
Orleans280183
Lewis248134
Franklin241312
Delaware219537
Seneca188956
Schoharie156816
Essex150826
Yates111226
Schuyler99314
Hamilton3012
Unassigned13864
Out of NY0218
Rome
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 26°
Binghamton
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 19°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 26°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 26°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Enter the Rock Your Body Giveaway from Alivana Aesthetics
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!