The US Department of Labor on Thursday reported that last week another 840,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits for the first time. This figure is slightly lower than a week earlier, but still indicates that the coronavirus pandemic continues to negatively affect the American labor market.
Millions of people remain unemployed in the United States, and the unemployment rate is 8.1 percent. Economists predict
that this figure could remain quite high over the coming months. So far, only half of the 22 million jobs lost to the coronavirus pandemic have been restored. The weekly indicator of first-time applications for benefits has been below 900,000 for several weeks, but continues to fluctuate.
The latest weekly data is well below the late March all-time high of 6.9 million filings, but it still exceeds the highs seen before the pandemic. US employers have rehired millions of employees who were laid off earlier this year due to plant closures, but some hard-hit companies have been slow to expand their workforce or have closed altogether. At the peak of the pandemic in April, the US unemployment rate exceeded 14.7 percent.
On Wednesday, October 7, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Congress and the Trump administration are unlikely to come to an agreement on a comprehensive COVID-19 economic assistance package. A day earlier, President Trump ordered the suspension of negotiations until election day.
The administration favors a phased approach, Meadows said. He did not specify exactly what issues the White House prefers to tackle, but repeated the president’s words that Trump is ready to support certain legislative acts to help American airlines and small businesses, as well as provide benefits to ordinary citizens.
Meadows said the White House administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have agreed on about ten points that the administration is “ready to consider” if the speaker agrees to a “phased” approach.