U.S. employers continue to lay off workers at a staggering rate as the resurgence of a coronavirus and lack of new federal aid weighs on economic growth.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that 885,000 Americans filed for new unemployment benefits last week, an increase from the previous week. This figure is not adjusted for seasonal variations.
After dropping in late spring and early summer as lockdowns related to the pandemic eased, new claims for state unemployment benefits have steadily totaled around 800,000 per week, well over- above the level of previous recessions.
The numbers are extremely worrying, in my opinion, and they indicate a labor market struggling to grow, said Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics.
Over the past month, major employers including United Airlines, Disney and Allstate have announced tens of thousands of layoffs, with more expected as industries like entertainment and hospitality struggle. In some states, restaurants have saved business by serving diners outside, but many will lose that option as temperatures drop.
Despite widespread economic pain, Republicans and Democrats in Washington were unable to agree on a new bailout, a failure that could lead to a further slowdown in the economy in the months to come. Federal benefits created in March to supplement state payments to the unemployed will expire by the end of the year.
An increase in coronavirus cases in the Midwestern and Western states has fueled fears of further lockdowns even as layoffs from large employers hit the workforce.
The evolution of the virus determines the course of the economy, said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. You can’t fully reopen with the contagion so high.
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