Another 787,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the pandemic continues to spread across the U.S. and world.
On Thursday, the Labor Department reported nearly 800,000 Americans filed for aid, which was adjusted for seasonal changes. From the prior week, it was a slight decrease in claims and fewer than what the economists expected.
Chief economist at PNC Gus Faucher said that unemployment benefits could be volatile around the holidays, so it might be a few weeks before it becomes clear.
U.S. unemployment crisis is not over
According to CNN, the unemployment claims were nearly four times higher in the same period a year ago. Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, the regular first-time claims were 161,460 workers, without seasonal adjustment.
The program was made to heal those who are not qualified for regular state aid, including those self-employed. The PUA program was included in last spring's CAREs Act, slated to expire in late 2020. But the new $900 billion stimulus bill signed into law extends the program by eleven weeks.
There may be a delay in receiving the unemployment benefits, while workers can file claims, receiving payments under the extension. The aid typically takes a few weeks to reprogram their computers, but some states move quickly.
With the various additional kinds of first-time claims, nearly 1.1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits without seasonal adjustment. Meanwhile, 5.1 million Americans have continued claims for their second week or more. There are 19.2 million total Americans who have received some government benefits form in the week ending December 19.
Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead US Economist at Oxford Economics, said, "While prospects for the economy later in 2021 are upbeat, the economy and labor market will have to navigate some difficult terrain between now and then, and we expect claims to remain elevated."
The unemployment aid was extended
The unemployment benefits were adjusted by 3,000, bringing 790,000 in total for the week ending on December 26. On Thursday, the number fell slightly to 787,00 for the week ending January 2, as per the officials.
According to Daily Mail, the government will issue Friday gloomy jobs report for December. Late last month, unemployed Americans gained urgently needed help when the $900 billion COVID-19 relief aid was finally signed into law. The measure provides a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit and an average state benefit of $320.
Nearly half of all states in the U.S. began the federal benefit distribution, as per an unofficial tally at UnemploymentPUA.com. Some states that take longer paying out the $300 unemployment aid can be made retroactively for the missed payments.
The congressional legislation expanded the federal benefits to 24 weeks, making the program to last until mid-March. Simultaneously, the new program that gives unemployment aid for gig and contractor workers, who are not eligible for the previous assistance, was extended for eleven weeks. On December 26, the benefits temporarily expired and cut off all aid for ten million unemployed Americans.