Finally, a level of normalcy is returning to our country after the coronavirus pandemic hit. In June and July, the Labor Department revealed very promising jobs reports showing far higher growth than the “experts” predicted. New reports show that jobless claims are comparable to those of March, meaning we are steadily creeping out of the slump that the coronavirus lockdowns forced us into.
The Labor Department reported on Thursday that, for the first time since March, the number of new jobless claims hit below 1 million. Only 963,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the week that ended last Saturday, after 20 consecutive weeks of being above 1 million.
This is the lowest number of people filing for unemployment throughout the pandemic thus far, once again beating predictions from economists who thought new unemployment claims would hit about 1.1 million.
More good news is that the total number of people living on unemployment also dropped by 3 million claims to a total of 28.3 million. While jobless claims are still extremely high, they are quickly decreasing as lockdowns continue to lift.
What is interesting is that many of the decreases in unemployment claims came from states that were recent coronavirus hotspots such as Florida, Georgia, and California.
Since many of the hotspots have shut down for a second time or are employing lockdown restrictions, some economists believe that rather than signaling economic recovery, the report reflects the expiration of additional stimulus package benefits. The federal government was giving a $600 unemployment benefit which expired in late July, which they believe caused many Americans to fall off unemployment.
This is the same benefit that President Trump signed an executive order on Saturday to extend at a lesser amount of $400, which is $200 less than the original benefit.
While it could be that new jobless claims decreased simply because the benefit expired, it seems that there are big decreases happening all around, as claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 228,000 for the week that ended August 8th. This is also the lowest it’s been since the initial lockdowns in mid-March.
Nevertheless, experts remain reserved n celebrating this as a positive sign in our country’s economic recovery.
Economist Chris Rubkey told Reuters, “It is too early to declare victory as there is a long way to go to stop the bleeding of the labor markets and part of the reason for reduced filings looks to be tied to the expiration of that $600 weekly turbo-boost for unemployment benefits from the expired Federal program at the end of July.”
While the experts’ opinions are always worth noting, the numbers seem to be encouraging as far as jobs and unemployment go. Plus, while we lost 22 million jobs this spring, we have already regained 9.3 million of them back. The fact that we are mostly locked down and we still regained nearly half of what was lost goes to show that the experts are downplaying the American economy’s ability to rebound.
Based on the consistently positive job reports the Labor Department has revealed for the past three months, I side with the economists who say we will quickly recover for the simple reason that there is no reason to believe we won’t. We had a booming economy just before the pandemic hit, so there is no indication to believe that it wouldn’t come back fast or just as prosperous as it was in February.