Jobless Claims Increase To 351,000 As Economic Recovery Slows

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 351,000 last week as the economy continues to slowly recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics figure released Thursday represents an increase in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Sept. 11, when 335,000 new jobless claims were reported. That figure was revised up from the 332,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

Jobless claims were expected to decline to 320,000, according to a Dow Jones estimate, CNBC reported.

“What we’re seeing is a labor market that continues to get better but we’re still dealing with high levels of unemployment,” PNC Financial Services Group Chief Economist Gus Faucher told The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this month, the U.S. reported 310,000 claims for the week ending Sept. 6, the lowest number of weekly jobless claims since 256,000 were recorded in March 2020.

There were consistently between 200,000-235,000 jobless claims reported in the months before the pandemic-related restrictions on business activity shut the economy down last year, according to Labor Department data. New claims skyrocketed to an all-time high of 6.1 million in early April 2020.

An estimated 11.3 million Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits nationwide, Thursday’s report showed.

“Despite the ongoing impact of the delta variant, the evidence is clear: the Biden plan is working, we are seeing real results, and the American economy is on the move again,” President Joe Biden said in Sept. 9 remarks on the economic recovery.

“We still have a great deal of work to do to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, but the American people can be confident in our strategy,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Democrats are racing to pass both a $3.5 trillion budget bill and legislation that would increase the debt ceiling, the amount of money the federal government is allowed to borrow to pay its debts. If Congress fails to raise the limit, the U.S. economy could face a severe downturn, six former Treasury secretaries wrote in a letter Wednesday.

If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the U.S. would likely default on its debt, triggering its gross domestic product to drop 4%, 6 million lost jobs and the national unemployment rate to skyrocket to 9%, according to a Moody’s Analytics report released Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell repeatedly stated that Republicans won’t support a bill raising the limit.

“Senate Republicans would support a clean continuing resolution that includes appropriate disaster relief and targeted Afghan assistance,” the Kentucky GOP leader said in a statement Monday.  “We will not support legislation that raises the debt limit.”

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