US LAYOFFS RISING AS BUSINESSES GRAPPLE WITH WEAK DEMAND

Weak demand is forcing US employers to lay off workers, keeping new applications for unemployment benefits extraordinarily high, even as businesses have reopened, buttressing views the labor market could take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Lucia Mutikani reported for Reuters on June 25, 2020.


A resurgence in confirmed coronavirus cases across the country, linked to the reopening of businesses, is also dimming the outlook. Roughly 29 million people were collecting unemployment checks at the end of May. The Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report on Thursday, the most timely data on the economy’s health, is unlikely to show a big improvement, more than a month after many businesses resumed operation after closing in mid-March in an effort to slow the spread of the respiratory illness.

Companies are hiring, but others are cutting jobs at nearly the same pace. The economy slipped into recession in February. “There were some businesses that tried to maintain their workforce, waiting to see what would happen as businesses reopened,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Even as the economy is picking up they are not seeing a lot of demand and are deciding that they don’t need that many workers.”

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits likely totaled a seasonally adjusted 1.3 million for the week ended June 20, down from 1.508 million in the prior week, according to a Reuters survey of economists.

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