New jobless claims have risen above 700,000 for the second consecutive week in November. Last week, initial jobless claims totaled more than 750,000. This week, new jobless claims sank down to 709,000. Still, jobless claims remain nearly three times higher than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, another 298,154 people who have Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program created to assist contractors who may not have qualified for unemployment assistance.
Jobless claims have steadily declined since reaching historic numbers in March and April. However, Americans fear that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and its economic impact could lead to increased hardship for many households.
Time continues to pass as the White House and Congress seemingly are nowhere near reaching a stimulus package deal. The most recent COVID-19 assistance deal, the CARES Act, currently provides assistance to four million people. It is set to expire on December 31 and the possibility of a renewal remains up in the air. When discussing a deal, both parties remain separated on the size of the package, benefits for local and state governments, tax credits and student debt assistance.
In spite of these grim circumstances, the development of a vaccine appears to be a beacon of light for the labor market moving forward. Many have even began planning for life and work once the vaccine arrives.
“Households and firms are going to plan ahead, for example by booking travel, vacation, and capex [capital expenditures], and the implication is that we will immediately begin to see the positive effects on employment, GDP, and earnings, even before the vaccine is available to the public,” economist Torsten Slok said.
Unfortunately, the vaccine appears to be months away from hitting the public market.
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