According to the data firm Womply, closings are rising in some hard-hit businesses. For example, 42% of bars were closed as of Dec. 16, up from 33% at the start of November. Over the same period, closures rose from 25% to 29% at restaurants and from 27% to 35% at salons and other health and beauty shops.
The number of jobless people who are collecting aid from one of the two federal extended-benefit programs — the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which offers coverage to gig workers and others who don’t qualify for traditional benefits — rose by nearly 27,000 to 9.3 million in the week that ended Dec. 5.
The number of people receiving aid under the second program — the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides federal jobless benefits to people who have exhausted their state aid — fell by nearly 8,200 to 4.8 million.
All told, 20.4 million people are now receiving some type of unemployment benefits. (Figures for the two pandemic-related programs aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations.)
States and cities have been increasingly issuing mask mandates, limiting the size of gatherings, restricting or banning restaurant dining, closing gyms or reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses, all of which has slowed economic activity. With vaccines now beginning to be gradually distributed, though, optimism is rising about 2021.
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