WASHINGTON: New claims for US jobless benefits inched down last week, but not by much, as a brief outburst of optimism about a new government aid package fizzled Thursday amid a continued impasse in Washington.New filings for unemployment assistance last week fell to 860,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, but despite the decline applications were higher than expected, reports AFP.
A surge in workers filed for benefits amid the widespread business shutdowns in March at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and though that wave is well past its peak, weekly filings remain far above the worst of the 2008-2010 global financial crisis.
And nearly 29.8 million people continued to receive some form of government aid through the week ended August 29, the latest for which data was available, the Labor Department said, and analysts have grown increasingly concerned of a spiraling employment crisis.
“While it is good the numbers are falling, their decline is tapering, so we have over a year to get to normal,” chief economist at the AFL-CIO trade union federation William Spriggs said on Twitter.
The data comes amid a continued impasse in Washington over providing additional support to the battered US economy and help for workers who have lost their jobs.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March allowed people to receive benefits for an extended period, however, the extra $600 in weekly unemployment payments as well as a program to support small businesses have expired.Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday repeated her pledge to continue discussions with the White House on a new spending package, but said Republicans are unwilling to compromise on the size.
“We have a massive problem in our country,” she told reporters, adding “it’s hard to see how we can go any lower when you only have a greater needs.”
President Donald Trump has balked at calls to ramp up support to struggling state and local governments.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows threw cold water on hopes of ending the gridlock, saying on Thursday he was “not optimistic” that Pelosi would want to have “meaningful” conversation if dialogue resumes.