JOBLESS CLAIMS ZOOM AS END OF EXTRA $600 BENEFIT LOOMS
The nation got another dose of bad economic news Thursday as the number of laid-off workers seeking jobless benefits rose for the first time since late March, intensifying concerns the resurgent coronavirus is stalling or even reversing the economic recovery, Christopher Rugaber wrote for the Associated Press (AP) on July 24, 2020.
And an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits, provided by the federal government on top of whatever assistance states provide, is set to expire July 31, though this is the last week recipients will get the extra funds. It is the last major source of economic help from the $2 trillion relief package that Congress approved in March. A small business lending program and one-time $1,200 payment have largely run their course.
With the count of US infections passing 4 million and the aid ending, nearly 30 million unemployed people could struggle to pay rent, utilities or other bills, and economists worry that overall consumer spending will drop, adding another economic blow.
More than 1.4 million people applied for jobless benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, up from 1.3 million the previous week. That is the first increase since March and 18th straight week that it has topped 1 million. Before the pandemic, applications had never exceeded 700,000. An additional 975,000 people applied for aid under a separate program that has made self-employed and gig workers eligible for the first time.