Thursday, November 19, 2020

The rise in COVID is now starting to drop jobs. Just as Americans are getting cut off.

Not a lot of good news on the jobs front today. First off, last week featured a sizable jump in the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims, reversing a downward trend.
New U.S. applications for state unemployment benefits rose in mid-November for the first time in more than a month, pointing to added stress on the economy from a record increase in coronavirus cases.

Initial jobless claims increased by a seasonally adjusted 31,000 to 742,000 in the seven days ended Nov. 14. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast initial jobless claims to total 710,000.

Another 320,237 people applied for benefits through a temporary federal-relief program that expires at the end of the year, the government said Thursday.
Those 320,000+ people filed for benefits under the PUA program for gig workers and other jobs that aren’t usually able to receive traditional unemployment. And that was an increase of nearly 24,000 new PUA claims compared to the previous week as well, so the total jump was around 55,000 for the 2nd week of November.

On the continuing claim side, things continued to improve through the end of October (the last week was have data for on all the programs). As November began, we were within spitting distance of getting below 20 million people receiving benefits, a level we hadn’t seen since April.
However, the number of people receiving long-term benefits continued to grow at the same time, and now exceeds 5 million.
And the 5 million on extended benefits and the 8.7 million more that are on PUA are facing an increasingly desperate situation. Increases in colder weather and COVID cases are going to limit job opportunities in the coming weeks, and there is a significant cliff that those people are set to go off of by the end of 2020.
"Congress is set to cut off 12 million Americans from the only thing holding them back from falling into financial wreckage and disaster," says Andrew Stettner, a co-author of the new study from the progressive-leaning think tank the Century Foundation.

Stettner says two important federal pandemic jobless relief programs have been a lifeline for people such as Anderson who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits or didn't qualify.

But with Congress stuck in a months-long stalemate over another relief bill, these programs are set to expire.

"Those will come to a crashing halt on Dec. 26, the day after Christmas," Stettner says. He says this is happening just as the pandemic is raging across the country and states and cities are reimposing restrictions on businesses and schools.
It’s especially rough in Wisconsin for several reasons. The first is that the $400-a-week add-on for benefits that came from a Trumpian raid on FEMA will likely be done by December. Then remember that Wisconsin recently became ineligible for having its recipients get unemployment benefits beyond 39 weeks. And 39 weeks from when COVID-related shutdowns began in March is around…mid-December.

And now we’re not seeing those lost jobs get replaced in our state. Not only have new unemployment claims been rising in Wisconsin recently (up from 11,913 in the first week of October to over 15,500 last week), but the new Wisconsin jobs report for October showed that we took a step backward last month.
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary employment estimates for the month of October 2020. The data shows that Wisconsin total non-farm jobs decreased by 14,700 and 2,700 private-sector jobs in the month of October. Wisconsin's unemployment rate for October was 5.7 percent, up from 5.4 percent in September.
Yikes! Granted, many of the job losses were actually lower-than-normal seasonal hirings in government (state govt and local govt added 3,900 and 3,700 raw jobs in October, which translates to a seasonal “loss” of 2,900 and 6,800), but a couple of beaten-up service areas lost more jobs than in a typical October, which could signal the beginning of what may be a brutal COVID winter.

Jobs lost, Wisconsin Oct 2020

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
Seasonally adjusted -1,700
Non-seasonally-adjusted -4,000

Accomodation and Food Services
Seasonally adjusted -5,300
Non-seasonally-adjusted -8,900

And while Governor Evers has recently awarded tens of millions of dollars in CARES funds for these types of businesses (unlike a lot of states, who aren’t even giving that), it’s a one-time bump that likely won’t be enough to help these places sustain operations until the snow thaws next Spring.

With the still-huge amount of people on unemployment and many in line to be cut off in both Wisconsin and America, we are in a dangerous place. And unlike the games that Trump/GOP are playing when it comes to states signing off on the will of the voters, it seems very possible that the economy is on the verge of a bad result that makes things even worse as 2021 begins.

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