This statement was published in response to the November 5, 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.
As the nation processes the results of the 2020 election, today’s Labor Department report serves as another reminder of the unfinished business before the current Congress and President Trump. New initial claims refuse to budge below 1 million per week, and actually ticked upwards on a non-seasonally adjusted basis as state claims came in 738,166 (down less than 1,000) and claims for PUA came in at 362,883 (up 3,839). Yet, the biggest takeaway is the harsh cliff facing workers on December 26.
Most workers began collecting state unemployment benefits in March or April, and with these benefits maxing out at 26 weeks, they are quickly coming to an end this fall. Three million workers ran out of state jobless benefits in September, and based on these trends more than four million workers may run out by the end of October (official tallies are not released until November 20th). The Labor Department reported today that the number of workers filing ongoing claims for state jobless benefits dropped to 6.95 million for the week ending October 24th, and has plummeted by 3.9 million over the last month. Most of these workers remain unemployed but are no longer showing up in the jobless claims count.
Millions of these workers will be cut from all unemployment benefits by the end of year. The Labor Department reported that there were nearly four million workers collecting extended PEUC benefits, a program which has a hard cut off the day after Christmas. But this number is an undercount. Florida and Georgia both continue to report zero claims to the Labor Department, but data reported separately indicate that there are at least 500,000 workers on PEUC benefits in the two states. It is likely that there will be as many as six million workers on these benefits when the cut-off arrives.
Millions more on PUA will also be cut off from benefits at the end of December. PUA claims have plateaued as these benefits will continue through the end of year for most claimants, with a smaller share starting to exhausting benefits at the end of October. Unlike state benefits, the number of PUA recipients has declined far more slowly, coming in at 9.3 million for the week ending October 17, down only 2.1 million over the last two months.
There are simply not enough jobs being created to support all of the workers running out of aid before the end of 2020. With the election behind us, it is now time to reach a deal that keeps the lifelines of PEUC and PUA going into next year. We urgently need action before the holiday season.