This statement was published in response to the March 11, 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 unemployment report shows just how many Americans are breathing a deep sigh of relief due to Congress passing the American Rescue Plan before benefits were set to begin expiring on Saturday. Based on this week’s data, there are 19.9 million unemployed Americans who will benefit from the package, including 13.8 million who will be able to continue their PEUC or PUA benefits through September 6, and another 5.9 million who will receive $300 per week on top of their standard state or federal extended benefits.
Moreover, these workers will have up to $10,200 of their 2020 unemployment benefits deducted from their taxable income, avoiding sky-high surprise tax bills for millions. Unemployment insurance represents one of the largest and most critical pieces of the relief plan, with the assistance carrying the unemployed through to the point where the vaccination program will speed and job opportunities will be more widely available.
Continued aid is vital because new applications for unemployment assistance are still coming in at far too high of levels. This week marks the 51st consecutive week with more than 1 million new UI claims filed. While the volume remains concerningly high, the trend, especially when it comes to state claims, is moving in the right direction. After having fallen by 47,000 to 709,500 last week, new state claims have registered below 800,000 per week (NSA) for the third straight week, after being above 800,000 for 11 weeks prior. This trend points to a welcomed slow down in layoffs and hour reductions that force workers onto the unemployment rolls.
Still, much faster rehiring is needed to bring down continued claims, which painted a mixed picture last week. While continued state claims continued to trend downward by 264,000, continuing claims for PEUC were up by 986,000, PUA by 1.06 million, and EB by 15,500 (driven largely by one-week spikes in California that will likely smooth out over time).
There is still a very long road ahead for the labor market recovery. But Congress has ensured that the unemployed won’t be left to go it alone, providing aid that is up to the scale of our task to reopen and recover.