Total U.S. unemployment claims are expected to surpass 40 million.
Forecasters expect the weekly Labor Department report on unemployment claims on Thursday morning to show another 2.1 million filings last week, according to MarketWatch, pushing the total past 40 million since the coronavirus pandemic began to devastate the U.S. economy in mid-March.
The latest claims may not only be 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, 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. The Labor Department reports may be the best source of information, she said, but they offer an “incomplete picture.”
Global markets were largely higher on Thursday, despite rising tension between the United States and China and expectations of another bleak report on the U.S. jobs market.
Stocks in London and Frankfurt were up about 0.5 percent in early trading after a mixed day on Wall Street. Other indicators were similarly positive but restrained. Prices for U.S. Treasury bonds fell, signaling improved investor sentiment.
Future markets were predicting that Wall Street would match European gains when U.S. markets opened later on Thursday.
Investors dismissed the heated rhetoric between the United States and China over Hong Kong, which drove the semiautonomous Chinese city’s Hang Seng index down 0.8 percent late in the trading day. Instead, they focused on efforts to shake off the effects of lockdowns intended to stop the coronavirus outbreak.
In South Korea, the central bank slashed interest rates in an effort to rekindle growth. Philip Lowe, the governor of Australia’s central bank, suggested the downturn there may not be as bad as expected. Japanese stocks rose more than 2 percent, the biggest gain among major markets, one day after leaders approved a new stimulus package.
Not all market indicators were positive. Oil prices fell in futures markets on lingering worries about excess supply.
The staggering unemployment figures — devastating as they are — do not fully capture the degree to which the coronavirus has disrupted professional life across the country.
Since March, when the crisis began to shut businesses en masse, a generation of professionals has seen careers enter a state of suspended animation. Hiring has dried up, advancement has ceased, job searches have been…
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