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Worse to come as layoffs continue

By Masao Suzuki

San José, CA – The latest report by the Department of Labor on unemployment insurance applications shows that the tide of layoffs continues. But this week, major U.S. corporations announced even more layoffs to come as the economy tilts on the edge of a ‘double-dip’ recession.

The Labor Department report released on Thursday, October 1 showed that there was no letup in the pace of layoffs. While the number of regular state unemployment insurance claims for the week ending September 26 fell by 36,000 from a week earlier, the number of new applications for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA program for the self-employed and gig workers rose by almost 35,000, leaving the total virtually unchanged.

Even worse, the broadest measure of unemployment insurance, which includes the number of people collecting benefits from the regular state unemployment insurance program, the federal PUA, as well as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC and the Extended Benefits program, rose by almost half a million in the week ending September 12. The PEUC and EB programs are for the long-term unemployed who have exhausted their regular UI claims. Their combined numbers rose by 180,000, showing the continued growth of the long-term unemployed.

Earlier this week, and after the reporting period in the Department of Labor report, big businesses announced tens of thousands of layoffs were coming this month. The single largest on was by the Disney corporation, which will cut 28,000 workers as their theme park and movie businesses continue to be crippled by the pandemic. Airlines announced a total of more than 30,000 more layoffs as government aid runs out at the end of September and passengers are down by more than two-thirds since before the pandemic hit. Insurance companies will cut thousands, while businesses ranging from banks to high-tech rolled out job cuts that had been postponed because of the pandemic.

Hopes for help from the federal government continue to look dim. While the Democrats in the House of Representatives are ready to pass a slimmed down $2.2 trillion aid package, Republicans in the Senate still cannot pass a counterproposal. The reason why can be seen in the latest vote to extend current spending, where ten Republicans voting against the measure. These ten are so intent on cutting spending for domestic programs that are willing to shut down the federal government to get their way and are dead set against any more aid to people hit by the recession.

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