One-Eighth of US Workers Getting Jobless Benefits

A mural on Broadway in Denver, Colorado, celebrates frontline workers treating people with Covid-19. (Courthouse News photo/Amanda Pampuro)

(CN) — The insured unemployment fell 0.5% last week, as 1.3 million Americans filed new claims and 32 million received jobless benefits.

According to data reported Thursday by the Department of Labor, 12.4% of workers eligible for unemployment benefits are receiving them. This figure does not include by millions of gig workers and entrepreneurs protected under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

New claims for benefits have slowly but consistently declined since April. This report marks the fifth consecutive week in which new claims for jobless benefits fell below 1.6 million.

Still many economists warn that U.S. employment is not on a rebound.

“Unfortunately, there are more recent indicators that layoffs are going to pick up again as people being laid off for the second time and hires will likely slow as well,”  Elise Gould, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute, wrote Tuesday.

Looking at data from May, Gould estimated that only 10 jobs were available for every 36 unemployed workers. While the U.S. added more jobs to the labor market in May and June, the market remains down 14.7 million jobs compared with February when unemployment dropped to 3.5%.

Other economic indicators like the high rates at which people are moving underscore further economic insecurity among Americans. 

After many states lifted stay at home orders in June, the U.S. is reporting surges in new cases of Covid-19, setting a record high of 62,425 new cases confirmed on Wednesday.

Over the last week, the U.S. reported an average 52,131 new daily cases of Covid-19, up from 42,155 and 30,840 during the previous two weeks. To date, 3.11 million Americans have tested positive for Covid-19 and an estimated 134,000 have died from the disease.

Puerto Rico reported the highest rate of insured unemployment in the U.S., with a quarter of its workforce receiving unemployment benefits. While rates of Covid-19 spread remain low in the U.S. territory, the island’s economy is highly reliant on tourists who have been effectively barred from visiting. 

The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan will reopen to tourists who present negative Covid-19 tests next week.

Other states with robust hospitality industries, Hawaii and Nevada, reported unemployment rates over 20%.

Michigan, Indiana and Texas reported the highest increases in new claims for jobless benefits. Oklahoma and Florida reported the greatest decreases in new claims.

At 5.2%, Nebraska’s insured unemployment rate has remained low throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The spread of disease also remains low throughout the state.

Nebraska reported an average of 159 daily cases over the last week and has reported fewer than 300 deaths since March. Bars and restaurants reopened in June in the Cornhusker State.

The Department of Labor used covered employment of 145,671,710 in its calculation, defining that term as Americans who are “unemployed through no fault of their own,” while also meeting certain work and wage requirements.

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