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More than 1M expected to file as COVID-19 rises



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Two Michigan women are decrying the expiration of a supplemental $600 weekly federal unemployment payment. (Aug. 7)

AP Domestic

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims may continue to seesaw, creeping up, then slightly falling, but the level will likely remain high as economic uncertainty lingers amid surges in coronavirus cases.

About 1.25 million Americans filed initial applications for unemployment insurance last week, economists estimate.

That would be a slight increase over the previous week and comes as out-of-work Americans make do without the extra $600 federal weekly benefit that began during the pandemic but ended in July.

Unemployment fell to 10.2% in July, down from 11.1% in June. But the fledgling economic rebound has been uneven, with rehiring increasing in certain industries while stalling in others.

Hospitality and retail companies are bringing on staff in pockets of the country where stay-at-home orders have eased in contrast to businesses in the South and West that are cutting jobs as the coronavirus spikes. 

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“Jobs for more-skilled workers in business/professional services are making little headway overall and are declining in computer services, management and advertising,” Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in an investors note last week. “These are the secondary effects of the stressed economy.”

Additional aid for the unemployed also remains in limbo. Congress appears to be making little headway in discussions about restoring the additional federal financial benefit and other assistance. Democrats want to reinstate the extra $600 through the end of the year while Republicans want to reduce it to $200 a week.

And though President Donald Trump issued a memorandum that would provide unemployed Americans with an additional $400 per week, it’s unclear whether he has the authority to bypass Congress and take such a step by executive action.

Additionally, Trump’s memo requires states to cover 25% of the costs, a contribution some states say they are unable to make as they grapple with budget shortfalls and their own needs for extra federal aid.

Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones

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