Unemployment Rate Continues to Rise
Roughly 900,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits during President Donald Trump’s last week in office.
That grim news comes from the US Department of Labor. About 40% of American workers – nearly 70 million people – have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began.
Nearly four times as many Americans filed for unemployment during the first week of January as the same period a year ago. Experts say the country is losing jobs to layoffs from small and large companies that have found revenue levels dropping due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CARES Act of 2020 extended unemployment benefits with its Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs. Those programs expired at the end of the year.
At the last moment, Congress passed and President Trump signed a second relief package the last week of December. The new legislation renews extended unemployment benefits and additional support for small businesses having trouble meeting payroll.
The US economy lost 140,000 jobs in the last month of 2020, suggesting that a full economic recovery is still in the future.
Newly sworn President Joseph Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package to support workers and employers who have been hard hit as the coronavirus ravaged the US economy. The proposal includes direct payments of $1,400 to Americans.
Republican lawmakers are expected to oppose parts of the bill because of concerns over the legislation’s effect on the national budget.
President Biden’s long-term plan is to prop up the economy with the stimulus package and other programs until a national vaccination program allows businesses to resume their pre-pandemic operations. Biden has set a goal of vaccinating 100 million people in the first 100 days of his presidency.