This statement was published in response to the June 17, 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 Labor Department report provides a snapshot of a steadily improving situation for America’s beleaguered workforce. Despite a slight uptick in new claims (+84,000) last week to 520,000 (402,000 regular NSA and 118,000 PUA), the job market represents a vast improvement from the million-per-week pace that persisted through March.
The improvement in new claims has been overshadowed by efforts by Republican governors to preemptively end assistance for those who are already on benefits. On Saturday, another 440,0000 workers will lose access to all federal unemployment aid in the eight states of Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming. These states gave their fellow citizens just 30 days to find work, after having promised them benefits through the summer.
Pandemic unemployment became even more of a flash point this week when Indiana Legal Services filed a lawsuit in state court accusing Governor Holcomb of shirking his responsibilities to protect more than 200,000 Hoosier relying on pandemic aid. Moreover, members of Congress from Missouri and Mississippi called for federal action to permanently fix the problem of inadequate UI benefits.
These cuts to benefits come at a still-intense period of need for American workers. There remain 14.8 million workers who are relying on one form of unemployment benefits for their primary source of income. PUA (6.1 million, down 254,000 this week) remains the largest group of claimants, yet one million of these workers are in danger of being left out to dry by governors who are cutting this program altogether. PEUC claims came in at 5.15 million this week (down 74,000), and workers on this program will also see their benefits expire in 21 states by the 4th of July.
“The brazen actions of Republican governors are putting unemployed workers at risk of serious hardship, interrupting the employment recovery that has been steadily underway. The number of workers on benefits has dropped 25 percent from its peak at the end of February, implying that as many as 5 million million were able to find jobs. It is just plainly unrealistic to think the majority of unemployed workers can navigate a complex job market and secure new employment by July 4th or even by Labor Day. It’s past time for Congress and the Biden administration to fix the holes in this critical safety net that have allowed governors to leave their citizens exposed.