In the week prior to Christmas, another 787,000 Americans applied for unemployment compensation, the latest snapshot of the challenging 2020 labor market before the new year.
Unemployment insurance applications have recovered to their highest level since the fall in recent weeks, as growing coronavirus has delayed recruiting and led to further layoffs.
Weekly claims at current levels are almost four times the pre-pandemic average.
The most recent weekly count of the Labor Department was 19,000 lower than the 803,000 claims of the previous week, but the total number of claims for the past four weeks is now 836,750, more than the city of Seattle population.
At 3.6 percent in January, the national unemployment rate started the year and hit a record high of 14.7 percent in April, when the coronavirus devastated most of the U.S. economy. The unemployment rate has since dropped sharply to 6.7 percent in November, but the rebound has been unequal, with high unemployment still faced by women, blacks, Hispanics and young people. Long-term unemployment is on the rise.
The latest rise in weekly unemployment insurance claims suggests that there is more trouble ahead.
25.7 million people in the U.S. are officially unemployed, are out of work due to the pandemic, or have undergone a drop in hours or wages, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Congress eventually reached an agreement after months of wrangling to extend unemployment insurance to the millions that were laid off during the pandemic. The $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill offers an extra $300 a week to those seeking unemployment benefits and expands two pandemic-specific services used by about 14 million people.
But the delay in reaching an agreement means that many will face delays in payments and more hardships around the world.
Before the pandemic, Fernando Comas of Secaucus, New Jersey, worked in the film industry as a video engineer and has been on leave since March until at least 2021.
His advantages were diminished six weeks ago. To address the issue, he has yet to hear back from his state jobs office.
I have a family to feed, a mortgage to pay, a car to pay off, and I’m a single dad of two little girls who depend on me to look after them,”I have a family to feed, a mortgage to pay, a car to pay off, and I’m a single father of two little girls who rely on me to take care of them,” “I’m going to lose everything, I’m probably going to be evicted and I’m going to start going to food banks to get food for my family.”