This statement was published in response to the October 15, 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 Labor Department report comes as the hard reality of failed stimulus negotiations is hitting home for the astounding 24.8 million workers who filed an initial or continuing claims for jobless benefits last week. For the past week, unemployed workers have been whipsawed by back and forth declarations from the White House that are clearly not materializing before the election.
These failures come as the flow of workers into UI benefits has yet to slow to manageable levels. Initial claims continued to hit more than one million per week, with 886,000 filing regular (up 77,000) UI and 373,000 for PUA (down 91,000) from last week. New claims have largely been flat, overall, bouncing between 1.3 and 1.7 million since August 8.
Workers are now faced with the news that no additional federal benefits will be coming to replace the $600 per week Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC), which expired on August 1 or the $300 Lost Wage Assistance program, which ran out on September 6. This means 11.2 million people filing PUA claims (down 220,000 from last week) and another 9.6 million on continuing state claims will have to live on benefits that average a meager $200 or $300 per week in these two programs.
The already dire situation will only worsen unless leaders in Washington can cut through the election year fog and deal with unemployment legislation in the coming months. By the end of year, millions more Americans will have run out of jobless aid and have no access to federal extended benefits. PEUC claims for extended benefits came in at 2.7 million last week (up 818,000), representing the largest one week increase since that program was enacted in March. With a 799,000 decline in continuing claims for state benefits the week ending September 26th, the total reported between the two programs is remaining flat.
This week’s data continues to be skewed by the pause in claims taking in California. Nevertheless, the overall data indicate a severe situation with little prospect of additional action by Congress this year. It will have devastating consequences.