Unemployment Claims On The Rise Yet Again, As Gap Between Whites And Blacks Widens

(TheLibertyRevolution.com)- Unemployment claims were on the rise again last week.

According to the weekly jobless claims report the Labor Department released on Thursday, 870,000 people filed for first-time jobless benefits last week, on a seasonally-adjusted basis. That marked a slight uptick from the week before.

While the weekly first-time unemployment claims are down significantly over where they were near the start of the pandemic, they are still much higher than before the pandemic. Weekly first-time claims now are roughly four times more than they were before states started issuing stay-at-home orders back in March.

The lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, Nancy Vanden Houten, commented:

“The jobless claim data paint a picture of a labor market recovery that’s struggling to maintain momentum.”

In addition to these first-time unemployment claims, continued jobless claims sat at 12.6 million last week, on a seasonally-adjusted basis. That is a slight improvement from the week before.

Not included in those numbers are people who filed for unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that Congress created as part of the CARES Act in the spring. Last week, 630,080 people in the U.S. filed for first-time unemployment claims under that program. That means there was a total of almost 1.5 million people who filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week.

Some of the numbers released by the Labor Department Thursday show promise, while others do not. For example, 26 million people received a form of government unemployment benefits as of September 5. That’s down 3.7 million people from just late August.

On the flip side, the number of people who have filed under alternate programs such as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program has increased in that time. That program helps people who have exhausted all their state unemployment benefit programs.

The overall unemployment rate has continued to drop over the last few months. In August, the unemployment rate sat at 8.4%, which is 1.8% lower than it was in July, as the economy added 1.4 million jobs.

But there’s been a gap in demographics with these numbers. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported that the unemployment rate was 7.3% for white workers in August, compared to 13% for black workers.

That 5.7-point gap between white workers and black workers is the highest it’s been in more than five years. There has traditionally been an employment gap between the two groups, but the unemployment rate for black workers was almost at historic lows before the pandemic outbreak.

In the early part of the pandemic, black workers were hit particularly hard. The Economic Policy Institute said black workers lost jobs at a higher rate than white workers. In April, less than half of the entire black adult population had a job, according to the institute.

The recent rebound in the overall unemployment rate has been attributed to a resumption of normal economic activity, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. But how long that activity remains as a potential second wave of the coronavirus might hit the country in the fall is up in the air.