Graham Kilmer

Number of Americans Relying on Unemployment Insurance Rising

The number of people seeking unemployment assistance was up, again, last week.

By - Sep 3rd, 2020 02:22 pm
On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

Total new claims for unemployment assistance were up again this week, as were the number of people currently relying on some type of assistance.

A total of 881,000 people filed new unemployment claims last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But 759,482 people filed for pandemic unemployment assistance. So there were a total of 1.6 million claims for unemployment last week. In the last seven days since Urban Milwaukee reported on unemployment, Wisconsin has had 13,000 new unemployment claims.

As of August 15th, there were 29.2 million people across the country relying on some type of unemployment assistance. This is more than two million people higher than the previous week. And it’s approximately 18-times more people than were relying on assistance at this time last year.

The U.S. is not achieving the V-shaped recovery economists predicted in the spring when the pandemic began. That recovery would have required a harder shutdown across the nation than most areas were able to maintain. Economists predicted an aggressive upward recovery, once the virus was safely suppressed and measures were in place to contain any new cases.

What we have instead is a long, drawn-out recovery, drawing out the pain of unemployment.

In March, Scott Adams, chair of the economics department at UW-Milwaukee, told Urban Milwaukee that it was likely that the national economy’s success would be highly correlated with the country’s success against the virus. He suggested putting money in people’s hands “without strings” so they can afford to hunker down and let public health professionals fight the virus. Only once the virus was beaten, could the economy truly begin to recover, Adams predicted. 

The federal government has implemented some stop-gap measures to provide some relief for people during the ongoing unemployment crisis, as there is no end in sight to the virus in the U.S.

One recent move was a $300 boost to unemployment benefits for people receiving state unemployment insurance, it follows a prior $600 per week assistance benefit. This boost, however, will last only for three to four weeks. And on Thursday, the Trump administration announced a nationwide moratorium on evictions.

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Categories: Business, Economics

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