This statement was published in response to the June 24, 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.
Today’s unemployment report reveals a labor market that is still reeling from the continued COVID-19 crisis, and subsequent onset of a recession—even as some leaders are willing to allow an unprecedented cut-off of billions of dollars in enhanced unemployment just four weeks from now. During the week ending June 20th, an additional 1.5 million Americans lost jobs and applied for state unemployment benefits (down 60,000 from last week’s figures, but still more than 800,000 higher than the peak of the last recession) and another 730,000 applied for pandemic unemployment assistance, who were ineligible for regular state benefits.
All together, 32.7 million workers are currently claiming unemployment benefits, including 18.3 million on state benefits and 11.0 million on pandemic unemployment assistance. With sizable increases in pandemic unemployment benefits in states like Arizona, California and Pennsylvania, the total number of workers claiming benefits is actually up by nearly three percent compared to last week. These claims represent 20.7 percent of the workforce and foreshadow a June jobs report that may fail to meet the high expectations set by the May jobs report.
The total number of workers collecting state benefits has remained largely unchanged over the last two weeks, decreasing by only 4 percent despite the ballyhooed economic recovery and increased reopenings. Of particular note, California continued claims are now at 2.8 million, up from 2.1 million on May 16; Florida continued claims are at 965,000, up from 529,000 on May 16; and Texas claims are at 1.25 million, up from 1.21 million on May 30th—and this data reflects conditions before the latest spike in infections.
Today’s data puts into sharper focus the positive effect of the $600 per week pandemic unemployment compensation benefits. The latest Treasury Department data found that in the week ending June 13, $25 billion in benefits was paid out, and up to two-thirds of this unprecedented total is due to PUC alone.
If these trends hold steady, 26 million Americans are set to lose benefits by July 26th, costing the economy $15.6 billion dollars in economic stimulus per week and leaving millions of families at a sudden severe risk for evictions and hunger. New research indicates that these benefits may be powerful enough to prevent any meaningful increase in poverty in 2020 despite the pandemic’s economic turmoil. Still, the Senate is set to blithely enter recess without giving American families any assurances about the lifeline of federal benefits, causing growing anxiety among jobless families.