• Thomas Parker

Pandemic unemployment assistance claims rise, traditional jobless claims fall

Nearly four months after the virus pandemic began to affect the economy, the number of people filing claims for unemployment insurance because of COVID-19-related job losses is increasing.

Applicants for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have risen consistently since the week ending April 11 when the government first started reporting claims figures, hovering at around 1 million new claims a week. The number of continued claims, or people approved for and receiving aid under the program, rose to 14.3 million for the week ending July 4.

The program, which adds up to $600 per week for unemployed Americans, is set to end on July 31, 2020.

Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation — a separate program that provides additional benefits to individuals who previously collected state or federal unemployment compensation but exhausted those benefits — is rising toward 1 million weekly claims, with new claims touching more than 936,000 for the week ending June 27.

A total of 32 million people were receiving unemployment benefits, according to the latest report from the Department of Labor.

But those numbers were two weeks behind in counting the number of people approved for traditional unemployment benefits and three weeks delayed for PUA and PUEC recipients. Including traditional and PUA unemployment claims, another 2.4 million people filed first-time jobless claims for the week ending July 11.

Jobless claims are still more than double the worst weeks in U.S. history.

The previous record high was 695,000, set in 1982. The U.S. has now seen 17 straight weeks of claims totaling over 1 million.

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