Unemployment Claims Surpass 1 Million Once Again

August 27, 2020

For nearly every week since March, millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as the economy continues to struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. And last week was no exception: once again more than 1 million people filed for unemployment for the first time. All together, more than 27 million people applied for benefits as the jobless rate hovers around the 10 percent mark. 

“It’s massively concerning that five months into this crisis we are still seeing those levels,” said economist AnnElizabeth Konkel. “It’s just really pointing to how much economic pain there is right now, and I don’t really expect that to change anytime soon.” To make matters worse, unemployed Americans no longer have access to the additional $600 per week that legislators passed months ago but let expire on July 31st. That means many jobless people are subsisting on little more than $300 per week, although a recent executive order could provide an additional $300 weekly check to unemployment recipients in the coming weeks.

Businesses added 1.8 million jobs in July, but weak consumer demand has prevented a widespread return of work and could continue to hurt growth in the long term. 

Questions:

  1. Do you think unemployed Americans should receive additional relief during the pandemic? Why or why not?
  2. Why could weak consumer demand have a long term negative effect on the economy?

Sources: Sarah Chaney, “Unemployment Claims Remain Historically High,” The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2020; Anneken Tappe, “Another 1 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Insurance Benefits Last Week,” CNN, August 27, 2020.

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