Weekly Unemployment Numbers Surge Much Higher Than Economists Were Expecting


Facts became an unwelcome thorn amid the Biden administration’s rosy predictions of economic recovery Thursday as unemployment took an unexpected jump.

Despite hopes from the U.S. Department of Labor that initial unemployment claims would drop by a fraction of a percentage point last week, claims rose 10.2 percent instead, the department reported in a news release.

In raw numbers, initial unemployment claims had been expected to dip by 432 and instead rose by 37,174.

That marked the first time in six weeks that initial claims rose instead of declined.

Further, 118,025 initial claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides an extra topping of $300 per week on standard unemployment benefits. The supplement payments expire nationwide in September, although many states are already phasing them out as part of their effort to get people back to work.

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Noting that one week does not make a trend, many commentators said there is no cause for alarm yet.

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“What the claims information doesn’t tell us is how much faster the job market will heal or where so-called full employment will ultimately be because the latest data tells the story of more than 9 million job openings and an equal number of officially unemployed,” Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick wrote Thursday, according to Forbes.

“The easiest part of putting people back to work occurred from May through August of last year, when more than a million jobs per month were added to payrolls,” he noted.

Some commentators said the economy remains in a transition period.

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“The pace of layoffs and new [unemployment] claims is definitely starting to normalize, but the number of American workers who are receiving unemployment benefits still remains extremely high,” said Marianne Wanamaker, an associate professor of economics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Most industries are reporting acute labor shortages, but that could even out by fall as the pandemic-era unemployment benefits are phased out and schools reopen allowing parents to return to work,” said Anu Gaggar, senior global investment analyst for Commonwealth Financial Network, according to Yahoo.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sounded an upbeat note on the economy.

“If you look at the demand for workers and the level of job creation and think ahead, I think it’s clear — and I am confident that we are on a path to a very strong labor market,” Powell said, according to Fox Business.

“There is still a big group of unemployed people and, you know, we’re not going to forget about them. We’re going to — we’re going to do everything we can to get people back into work and give them the chance to work,” he said.

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