Unemployment Claims Fall Slightly As Biden Administration Pushes Vaccines, Stimulus


Another 847,000 Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week (on a seasonally adjusted basis), the Labor Department said Thursday—that’s 67,000 less than the prior week but still incredibly high by historical standards as the ongoing coronavirus crisis continues to batter the economy.

Key Facts

Another 426,856 people filed new claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which extends benefits to self-employed workers, gig workers, freelancers, and others not eligible for traditional state programs.

Thursday’s data follows weeks of stubbornly elevated claims this winter while coronavirus cases surged.

Big Number

18.3 million. That’s how many people are receiving some form of government unemployment benefit.

Key Background

During his first week in office, President Biden touted an aggressive rollout of vaccines across the country and on Monday predicted that any American who wants one would be able to get a vaccine by the spring. Others in the administration have suggested that the timeline will not be so short, with Andy Slavitt, Biden’s Covid-19 adviser and acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, suggesting that it would be “months” before vaccines are freely available to the general public. Experts generally agree that getting a handle on the virus though public health measures and widespread vaccination is essential for the labor market’s recovery.

Crucial Quote

“The third wave of the pandemic is showing signs of slowing, but it’s still much too early to call this current wave of the pandemic over, especially with the prospect of new, more transmissible variants on the horizon,” Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao said. “Getting the pandemic under control and accelerating vaccine distribution are the best economic stimulus that the new Biden Administration could provide.”

What To Watch For

Biden is pushing Congress for another sweeping economic rescue package, which along with new money for vaccine distribution would also include expanded federal unemployment benefits and another round of stimulus checks.

Further Reading

Schumer Says Democrats Will Move Forward On Stimulus With Or Without Republicans—And It Could Be As Soon As Next Week (Forbes)

Biden Signs ‘Buy American’ Executive Order—Here’s What It Means For Businesses (Forbes)

Here Are The Biggest Risks To Derail An Economic Recovery In 2021, Goldman Sachs Warns (Forbes)

Another 900,000 Americans Filed For Unemployment Last Week As Biden Preps Major Stimulus Push (Forbes)

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