USA unemployment data underscores labour crisis awaiting Biden

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Applications for USA state unemployment benefits fell only slightly last week and remained elevated, signaling heightened pandemic-related strain in the US labor market just as Joe Biden begins his first days as president. As of last month, the unemployment rate was 6.7%.

"The drop in jobless claims supports our view that last week's leap was a fluke, due to seasonal adjustment problems which start over Thanksgiving and persist well into January", Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, told Yahoo Finance in an emailed statement.

The latest figures show Ohioans filed 42,975 initial jobless claims for the week ending January 16, a 15% increase over the previous week, the Department of Job and Family Services said.

Claims for help under a federal program for gig workers and the self-employed rose sharply, suggesting many people are trying to renew their benefits after that program briefly lapsed in December.

The department added continuing claims showed a slight decrease for the week, falling by 127,000 to 5.05 million.

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New claims for unemployment benefits remain at their highest level in ME since the summer as parts of the economy struggle amid the continuing pandemic.

COLUMBUS, Ohio-As state officials report widespread fraud among coronavirus unemployment benefits claims, Attorney General Dave Yost has asked Ohio's congressional delegation to sponsor legislation ensuring victims don't have to pay income taxes on claims falsely filed in their name. And it's doubtful numerous almost 16 million people now receiving unemployment benefits will be back to work by then. That can result in temporary lapses of aid as recipients have to reapply to overwhelmed state unemployment offices. Retail sales have fallen for three straight months.

Michael Feroli of JP Morgan predicted Congress could pare the president's plan down to the $900 billion range, matching a separate measure approved last month.

Even the smaller amount would boost GDP growth this year to 5.3 per cent and in 2022 to 2.6 per cent, he said, a "remarkable expected turnaround" aided also by negligible inflation and the Federal Reserve's maintenance of low borrowing rates.

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