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Unemployment insurance numbers rise across the board

By Masao Suzuki

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San José, CA – The latest report on unemployment insurance by the Department of Labor showed larger numbers across a number of measures. The number of new claims for regular state UI the week ending September 5 increased by 20,000 from the previous week. The same for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA for self-employed and gig workers, which rose by more than 90,000, or 12%. Together total new claims rose to almost 1.7 million for the latest week.

The numbers of continuing claims, which show how many people are actually collecting benefits, also rose. The number of people getting regular state unemployment insurance rose to 13.2 million for the week ending August 29, up 50,000 from the previous week. The federal PUA benefits are being paid to 14.6 million for the week ending August 22, up over a million from the week before, and marking the first time that PUA claims exceeded the regular state UI.

With more and more workers out of work for longer periods of time, the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation or FEUC, for those who regular UI has run out, also rose by 30,000 to more than 1.4 million. Another program for these long-term workers, the Extended Benefits, saw their numbers jump 43% to more than 240,000.

The broadest measure, which includes the regular state unemployment insurance, the federal PUA, the federal PEUC, the state EB, as well as smaller programs, grew by 375,000 to 29.6 million. This represents more than 18% of the total labor force, which are those who are working or unemployed.

While the economy was slammed by the pandemic in March and April at the beginning of the recession, the worsening numbers for unemployment insurance are coming at a time when new infections and deaths for COVID-19 have been trending down recently. Along with the continued rise in numbers of long-term unemployed, the recession is beginning to worsen even without a surge in the pandemic.

The financial situation of local and state governments continues to get worse as sales and income tax revenues fall with recession. State and local governments face a total shortfall of about $500 billion through next summer. Without more aid from the federal government, education and health care services will be slashed, costing hundreds of thousands in lost jobs.

Despite the growing numbers of people who are depending on government aid and a fiscal crunch among state and local governments, the likelihood of the federal government coming up with more economic relief also dimmed in Washington, D.C.

While the Democrats in the House of Representative passed a $3.5 trillion Heroes Act back in May, the Republicans did not respond until late July. By this time parts of the March Cares Act, including the $600 a week additional unemployment benefits and the eviction and foreclosure restrictions, were expiring. When the Republican Senate put forward a much more limited $1 trillion proposal, the Democrats offered to split the difference with a $2.2 trillion compromise. But in response, the Republican Senate has passed a bill that only offers $300 billion in new money – showing that they are not serious about negotiating. The Republican Senate bill is even worse than President Trump’s Executive Order giving $300 a week in additional aid, only offering $200 a week. In this and in other ways, the Republican Senate has shown themselves with their bill to be worse than Trump on economic aid to the American people.

#SanJoséCA #unemploymentInsurance #DepartmentOfLabor #HEROESAct