This statement was published in response to the July 15, 2021 release of jobs numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the most up-to-date data please visit TCF’s comprehensive UI data dashboard here.
Today’s weekly unemployment report provides further evidence of two key facts: one, that UI is a needed bridge for jobless workers who have fallen on hard times, and two, that UI is a buoy for our economy, delivering billions of dollars in consumer spending and making the job search process more efficient for employees and employers alike. Our burgeoning recovery, spurred in no small part by federal stimulus spending, has slashed the number of new unemployment claims, which edged down 3,600 this week to 479,500 (383,000 state and 96,000 PUA). This marks the fourth consecutive week that new claims have registered under 500,000, after tallying one million or above for the year between March 2020 and 2021.
Despite the decline in new claims, there are still 13.7 million workers relying on unemployment aid—and time is running out before they see their benefits cut. This includes 3.1 million on state aid (down 145,00 last week), 5.7 million on PUA (down 138,000), and another 4.7 million on PEUC (down 198,000). The fate of these workers, and our overall economic health, is one reason why Fed Chair Jerome Powell pledged on Wednesday to continue supporting the economy until it returned closer to pre-pandemic levels, noting that there is no notable difference in labor market outcomes between the some two dozen states that have cut off their residents from the $300 federal supplement and those that have not.
Come September 6, the majority of unemployed workers will have no access to jobless aid. Millions will see their benefits expire before Labor Day, for the simple reason that they live in one of the 24 states where governors decided to reject federal jobless aid—money that cost the state nothing, but that was critical in helping residents make ends meet. Maintaining a fast pace of recovery, notwithstanding temporary price pressures, is vital to providing high-quality, well-paid jobs for all Americans.
Fortunately, courts this month have stopped efforts by Governor Hogan in Maryland and Governor Holcomb in Indiana to renege on their commitment to the unemployed, ruling that the governors abdicated their legal responsibility to protect jobless workers and bring federal assistance dollars into the state. The judges understood a truth that continues to emerge in the empirical data: emergency support provided by pandemic aid is not holding back the recovery nor is it keeping workers from returning to work. In the week ending July 3, state unemployment claims fell more in the states maintaining the $300 boost (down 5 percent) than they did in states rejecting the federal supplement (down 4 percent).