Unemployment claims have declined in recent months, but they remain much higher than they were before the pandemic.
Just under 360,000 people have made initial claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which Congress created as part of its $ 2 trillion coronavirus relief program to provide a assistance to those who are not generally eligible for benefits, such as construction workers and the self-employed. This is almost 15,000 compared to the previous week.
Workers exhausting their regular benefits
Falling numbers, however, are not necessarily a good sign. Long-term unemployment is increasing as the national recovery weakens. A growing number of people have been unable to find new jobs and are exhausting state regular benefits, which typically last 26 weeks.
They are looking to an extensive federal safety net, primarily the Emergency Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, which Congress also created in March to provide the unemployed with an additional 13 weeks of benefits.
About 3.7 million people were receiving these pandemic benefits as of October 10. This is over 387,000 compared to the previous week.
And nearly 401,000 more Americans were receiving extended benefits, which provided for payments of up to 20 additional weeks depending on the state. The federal government is fully funding this program during the pandemic, instead of asking states to contribute half.
This extended benefit figure is down 44,200 from the previous week. Some states ended their extended benefit program as their unemployment rate improved.
However, these long term benefits will not last long. The pandemic extension of payments – along with the program for on-demand workers and the self-employed – expires at the end of the year. And the federal government will no longer take half the cost of extended benefits
A total of 22.7 million Americans were claiming unemployment benefits as of Oct. 10. This represents a decrease of 416,000 from the previous week.