This statement was published in response to the July 30, 2020 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.
For the 19th straight week, the Labor Department reported today that more than 1 million workers newly filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending July 25. But starting next week, the more than 2 million workers filing last week won’t be able to count on the $600 per week in additional pandemic unemployment compensation. Congress has allowed the extremely successful CARES Act program to lapse without clear prospects for a legislative deal to restart the pivotal jobless aid, leaving the financial security of tens of millions of Americans hanging in the balance.
Today’s report provides even more evidence of prolonged labor market troubles and the need for the continuation of CARES Act aid. As the nation faces sustained, rising pressure from the pandemic, new state unemployment claims rose for the second straight week (SA), after having declined for the previous 15 weeks in a row. The Trump White House and Senate leadership are essentially gaslighting the American public: as our jobs crisis worsens, they tout a so-called recovery while seeking to decimate the safety net that is keeping millions of Americans afloat.
Ongoing unemployment claims (insured unemployment) showed no sign of ebbing last week either, clicking up a surprising 3.3 percent from the previous week. Since declining by 22 percent from a mid-May peak (from May 9 to June 13), ongoing claims for state benefits have only dropped by 4.4 percent over the past month. Overall, a total of 22 states reported increases in continued claims, including a major increase in California which has struggled to manage a second wave of COVID-19 infection.
In addition, there were 13.5 million ongoing claims in two CARES Act programs (12.4 million in PUA and 1.1 million in PEUC). The PEUC claims represent the second-largest weekly total since the CARES Act was enacted. When all the CARES Act programs are taken into account, there were 33 million claims for unemployment benefits reported today.
In the face of these extreme numbers, Senate Republicans have proposed a massive cut in federal unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 through September 30th, followed by an unworkable sliding scale that would limit the combination of federal and state unemployment to 70 percent of wages. Our new 50-state analysis shows that this proposal, the HEALS Act, would have dire impacts on American workers and the economy, including:
- Cut federal pandemic benefits for more than 25 million Americans, including a 43 percent cut in weekly benefits on average.
- Weekly benefit cuts would range from as high as 57 percent in Oklahoma to as low as 36 percent in Washington state.
- Drain $90 billion out of the pockets of jobless workers and the economy by the end of September, at a rate of $10 billion a week.