Jobless claims fall by 14K despite delta layoff fears

Jobless claims fall by 14K despite delta layoff fears
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New weekly applications for jobless benefits hit a new post-lockdown low last week despite rising COVID-19 cases driven by the delta variant, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.

In the week ending Aug. 28, the seasonally adjusted total of initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 340,000, falling by 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s total was revised up by 1,000 claims.

On an unadjusted basis, claims totaled 287,751, falling 11,040 from the previous week’s unadjusted total.

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The number of claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program created for gig workers and contractors, sunk by 14,020 to 102,405 after a jump of roughly 8,000 in the previous week.

While jobless claims data is volatile and often distorted by state processing issues, the continued decline of new applications suggests that the delta surge has not led to widespread layoffs.

"Claims once again weathered the Delta wave, nudging down to a new pandemic-era low. That employers are laying off fewer workers is a testament to how Americans are steadfast in resuming normal lives and how desperate employers are to keep the workers they have. Many employers are actually struggling to hire more workers, especially in the leisure and hospitality industries,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, in a statement.

Roughly 9.2 million people were receiving benefits in jobless aid programs set to expire next week. Another 3 million will also lose a considerable portion of their aid when the $300 weekly boost to unemployment benefits also expires Sept. 6.

“This is a crisis that could have been avoided. In this case, doing nothing is doing something: the expiration of emergency benefits will have dire consequences for millions of families and reverberate throughout our entire economy,” said Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, a progressive nonprofit.