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July 21, 2020

FROM: Steven Davi

Steven N. Davi

Executive Director and General Counsel

COVID-19 Update: More Positive Signs in Unemployment Numbers?

According to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor, states reported that 1.3 million U.S. workers filed for new unemployment benefits during the week ending July 11.  First-time claims have fallen for 15 straight weeks since hitting a record 6.8 million in late March, 2020.  And the total number of workers continuing to claim unemployment benefits dropped to 17 million last week after peaking at nearly 25 million in early May, 2020.  

As we advised on July 2, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month that the U.S. economy showed positive job gains for the second straight month in June, adding 4.8 million jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to an adjusted 12 percent from 16.4 percent in May.  Whether this trend continues likely depends on data coming out of states like Arizona, California, Texas and Florida in the weeks ahead, where a recent surge in coronavirus cases has led to a second round of business closures. 

Meanwhile, tens of millions of people continue to claim unemployment under the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program providing jobless benefits of $600 per week to workers previously not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.  These benefits are due to expire at the end of this month, one of the thorniest issues Congress faces when it returns to Washington this week to consider another coronavirus relief bill.

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