business news in context, analysis with attitude

Breaking news from Politico this morning:

"Workers filed 2.1 million new unemployment claims last week, the Department of Labor reported, suggesting about a quarter of the workforce is seeking jobless aid to weather the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.

"The latest figure indicates that the pandemic has pushed 40.8 million Americans out of work in just 10 weeks.

"DOL also reported that another 1.2 million people applied for benefits under the new temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program created for individuals who are typically ineligible for unemployment insurance, such as self-employed workers. With those people added, the raw unadjusted number of claims filed last week could be as high as 3.1 million, though there could be some overlap between the new program and traditional unemployment benefits."

The New York Times also provides some context:

"The report marks the eighth week in a row that new jobless filings dipped from their peak of almost 6.9 million, but the level is still far above historic highs.

"The latest claims may not only be a result of fresh layoffs, but also evidence that states are working their way through a backlog. State unemployment offices that manage and distribute benefits have been stretched by the scale of the layoffs. And overcounting in some places and undercounting in others has made it difficult to precisely measure the number of layoffs caused by the pandemic — and devise policy responses — as shutdowns lift and state and local economies start to reopen.

"Shelter-in-place orders and business restrictions have been lifting across the country, and some workers have been called back to work. But the reopenings remain bumpy and incomplete, and flare-ups of the coronavirus continue to disrupt business."