US unemployment claims rise for first time since March as aid schemes wind down

Initial claims through regular state programmes increased to 1.42 million in the week ended July 18, up 109,000 from the prior week

The US has seen a rise in coronavirus cases, which have in turn halted reopenings across many states within the country. Bloomberg  
The US has seen a rise in coronavirus cases, which have in turn halted reopenings across many states within the country. Bloomberg  

US jobless claims rose last week for the first time since the initial pandemic-induced surge in March, signalling a labour market stall just as federal aid winds down for people and companies.

Initial claims through regular state programmes increased to 1.42 million in the week ended July 18, up 109,000 from the prior week, a Labour Department report showed Thursday; on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, claims declined. There were 16.2 million people who filed for ongoing benefits through those programmes in the period ended July 11, down from the prior week and less than forecast.

Economists in a Bloomberg survey had forecast 1.3 million initial claims, little changed from the prior week, with projections ranging from 1 million to 1.55 million.

US stock futures pared gains after the figures, which indicate layoffs are rising as a surge in coronavirus cases prompts states to pause or reverse reopenings. Other challenges for the labour market include the imminent potential expiration of supplemental federal jobless benefits and the widespread struggles of businesses that rely on in-person interaction.

Initial claims in California – the most populous state and a hotspot for the virus – rose on an unadjusted basis last week. Other states with increases included Alabama, Connecticut, Nevada and Tennessee. Declines were reported in Florida, Georgia, Texas and New Jersey.

Other data this week underscored the potential for a worsening labour market. The Census Bureau’s weekly Household Pulse survey showed the number of employed Americans dropped by about 6.7 million from mid-June through mid-July, the majority of that in the second week of July from the first.

Meanwhile, more than half of business closures in a Yelp survey are permanent, indicating some of the lost jobs aren’t coming back anytime soon.

Published: July 23, 2020 05:17 PM

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