USA weekly jobless claims stuck at higher levels

Andrew Cummings
September 18, 2020

According to Thursday morning data from the U.S. Department of Labor, 18,845 New Jerseyans filed for unemployment the week ending September 12, a slight dip from the 20,000 figure where the number of claims has hovered for weeks.

The department said there are 12.6 million continuing claims, which lag initial claims by a week. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said more fiscal support was likely to be needed for the economy.

A total of 16,294 initial jobless claims were filed from September 6 to September 12 by Ohioans.

The department has handled roughly 185,800 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 90,400 initial claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, it said.

In a recently posted filing, Universal Orlando, saying it faces "unprecedented challenges" that are expected to continue into next year, advised the state it was extending the furloughs of 5,398 workers at least six more months. ODJFS has received around 1 million applications for unemployment benefits and more than 94% of those have been processed.

"The crisis has yet to abate, rehiring is growing slowly, and the struggles of families and businesses continue to fester", said Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation in NY.

US stocks fell at the open, remained lower following the data, while 10-year Treasuries and the dollar were higher.

"Recalls of laid-off workers continued in MI in August, but at a slower pace than in the last few months", said Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies. About 1.6 million individuals had claimed benefits in all programs in the same week past year. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides benefits through the end of the year; maximum eligibility is 46 weeks, including extended benefits.

Thursday's figure represented the third consecutive week that new jobless claims remained below the psychologically important 1 million level, yet they remain within historically high levels triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But in late July, the labor market appeared to stall and claims hovered around one million throughout August, a level so high it was never recorded before the pandemic struck.

The prior week's drop below the 1 million mark, the second consecutive week, was attributed to a technical change made by the Labor Department, rather than a sustained improvement in unemployment.

SeaWorld of Florida, which initially furloughed the majority of its workers when the park closed in March, advised the state, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings it is laying off 1,896 of its previously furloughed workers.

The housing market is being fueled by record low interest rates and a pandemic-fueled migration to suburbs and low density areas.

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