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New Jobless Claims Surge Amid Worker Shortages

The Labor Department’s Thursday (July 22) report showed that new weekly jobless claims for the week ending July 17 unexpectedly went up to 419,000, an increase of 51,000 from the previous week’s revised level. Last week’s number was revised up by 8,000 from 360,000 to 368,000. 

The total number of continued weeks claimed for the week ending July 3 was approximately 12.6 million, down 1.3 million from the previous week. There were 32.9 million weekly claims filed for benefits in all programs during the same time period last year. 

Extended benefits during the week ending July 3 were available in Alaska, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Texas.

Dow Jones forecasted that new jobless claims would be 350,000, CNBC reported. The number of new jobless claims had been steadily dropping since January.

There were a record 9.2 million job openings in May, prompting employers to boost pay to attract talent.

Attorney Alec Summerfield filed an amended class-action lawsuit at Baltimore City Circuit Court on behalf of Unemployed Workers United. The complaint alleges that Secretary of Labor Tiffany P. Robinson broke state laws when she held back payments.

“Minimum wage increases income levels [and] reduces poverty, so I think it’s pretty clear that it improves conditions in the lower end of the wage distribution,” Daniel Kuehn, a research associate at The Urban Institute, told The Hill earlier this year.

On Feb. 21, new jobless claims dipped below 800,000 for the first time since the pandemic began. About 6.867 million jobless claims were filed when COVID-19 took hold in March 2020.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce moved to address the nationwide shortage of workers with the launch of America Works, an initiative to mobilize industry and government leaders to eradicate the shortage. In March, job openings reached a record-high 8.1 million.

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