787,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, fewer than expected, but still well more than the pre-pandemic record.
That jobless claims are still running near 800,000 nine months into the crisis is a testament to the ongoing precarity created by the virus and the acute need for additional federal support to those who have lost their livelihoods.
Consensus was looking for 835,000, so the actual print is a “beat,” a term rendered largely meaningless in 2020, both due to the impossibility of forecasting during a global depression and to the fact that so much of the data is objectively bad, irrespective of how it compares to forecasts.
The four-week moving average for initial claims rose to 836,750.
The new virus relief package extends key federal programs for the jobless and also provides for another three months of supplementary assistance. That extra cushion will be necessary as the US economy braces for yet another expected COVID wave atop the existing winter surge as the impact of Christmas holiday travel shows up. Additionally, more states are likely to report cases of the mutated variant which scientists believe is more transmissible, even if it’s not more deadly.
Continuing claims dropped to 5.22 million in the week ended December 19. That’s “better” than the 5.39 million consensus expected. The figure (below) essentially shows a sideways-ish drift.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims fell on both an initial and ongoing basis.
With apologies to everyone who might harbor pretensions to the kind of aloof attitude that closes the door to empathy, the pandemic was the last straw for a society rife with economic injustice.
We no longer live in a world where Americans are prepared to accept economic outcomes that perpetuate egregious inequities accumulated over decades.
Even some people who have no reason outside of politics to care about the plight of the ubiquitous “everyman,” see the political utility in championing ideas like $2,000 checks during times of crisis.
In the words of The Dude (quoting George H.W. Bush), “This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.”