New jobless claims for the week that ended July 31 dropped by 14,000 to 385,000, slightly higher than economists’ forecasts of 383,000 and still way above pre-pandemic levels of 218,000. Overall, the numbers are significantly down from the historic high of 6.2 million last April.
Since May, unemployment claims have moved between 368,000 and 424,000, lower than early pandemic numbers but still higher than most points in history. Moreover, labor shortages are crippling industries already hobbled by the pandemic — restaurants, travel, retail, entertainment.
The weekly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Thursday (Aug. 5) indicated that extended benefits were still available in Alaska, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island and Texas.
States that dropped the add-on benefit, however, are not seeing the return to work that some local and state officials had expected. According to a report from CNBC, 26 states dropped pandemic federal assistance in June and July, although the program doesn’t actually end until Sept. 6.
Economists have said there are larger factors at play — Delta variant fears, child or elder care responsibilities, early retirements — that all have a hand in the number of people claiming new or continued unemployment benefits.
Payroll and time management company UKG indicated its research found that in states that dropped add-on federal benefits, people returned to shift work some 50 percent less than in the states that kept the perk in place. The reality bucks what was expected to happen, per CNBC.
The BLS is issuing a report on Friday (Aug. 5) that will show data regarding the number of new hires, according to The Wall Street Journal, which found in a survey of economists that an estimated 845,000 new jobs were created in July.
“IT technology, cybersecurity networks, all those types of remote-work jobs are going to be continuing to grow as we deal with the changing structure of the economy,” New Mexico State University Economics Professor Benjamin Widner told the WSJ.