Another 2.1 million unemployment claims were filed last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, pushing the total past 40 million — the equivalent of one out of every four American workers — since the coronavirus pandemic grabbed hold in mid-March.
The report marks the eighth week in a row that new jobless filings dipped from the peak of almost 6.9 million, but the level is still far above historic highs.
The latest claims may be not only a result of fresh layoffs, but also evidence that states are working their way through a backlog. And overcounting in some places and undercounting in others makes it difficult to measure the layoffs precisely.
Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Congress approved an expanded palette of jobless benefits that included freelancers, self-employed and gig workers and others who would not normally qualify under state rules. But many states, flooded with applicants, were slow to put the program into effect, and those eligible may not yet be fully reflected.
“When we think about what to do when benefits expire, it would be helpful to know how many people are actually getting them,” said Elizabeth Pancotti, a research assistant at the National Bureau of Economic Research. While the Labor Department reports may be the best source of information, she said, they offer an “incomplete picture.”
The White House won’t update its economic projections this summer.
The Trump administration will not issue a midyear update to its economic forecasts this summer, breaking decades of tradition amid the uncertainty of a pandemic recession, officials confirmed on Thursday.
The decision will spare the administration from having to reveal its internal projections for how deeply the recession will damage economic growth and how long the pain of high unemployment will persist.
When the administration last published official projections in February, it forecast economic growth of 3.1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2021, and growth rates at or around 3 percent for the ensuing decade. It forecast an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent for the year.
The virus has rendered those projections obsolete. Unemployment could hit 20 percent in June, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told CNN this week. The Congressional Budget Office said in April that it expects the economy will contract by 5.6 percent this year and end with unemployment above 11 percent.
The White House is required by law to issue both an annual budget and a midyear update to it, called a “mid-session review.” Updating economic projections in the mid-session review is optional, but it is a practice that administrations — including President Trump’s — have widely followed since the review was mandated by Congress in 1970.
The decision not to release updated projections was first reported by The Washington Post.
U.S. stock futures waver after new jobless data.
U.S. stock futures wavered and global…
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