Weekly Jobless Claims Drop to Lowest Level Since March as Recovery Continues

October 29, 2020 Updated: October 29, 2020

The number of U.S. workers seeking unemployment benefits last week fell by 40,000 to the lowest level since March, when the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus delivered a colossal blow to the economy.

A report from the Labor Department on Thursday (pdf) showed 751,000 people filed for state unemployment benefits in the week ending Oct. 24, a drop from 791,000 noted in the previous week. Weekly jobless claims hit a record 6.867 million in March and, aside from several upticks, have fallen ever since. Still, they remain above their 665,000 peak seen during the 2007–09 Great Recession.

“New unemployment claims are lower, but hardly in the realm where we can take a great deal of reassurance from the present situation or near-term outlook,” Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said in a statement to The Epoch Times. “There are still some 22.6 million individuals receiving some form of unemployment compensation in the latest week, enough to fill a major American city.”

The Labor Department report also showed that the number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits after earlier filing an initial claim fell by 709,000 during the week ended Oct. 17, and now stands at 7.8 million. A total of 22.6 million Americans were receiving some form of unemployment assistance in the week ending Oct. 3, a drop of just over 415,000 from the week prior. By comparison, there were 1.4 million people claiming such benefits at this time last year.

The largest increases in initial jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 17 were in Massachusetts (+5,442), Kansas (+3,010),
Virginia (+2,255), and Texas (+616), while the largest decreases were in California (-16,207), New York (-11,495), Georgia (-9,274), Florida (-7,834), and Michigan (-7,774).

“The economy faces a number of headwinds including the resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases, which after all is the genesis of the economic downturn which began in March,” Hamrick added. “There’s a cost both at present and in the weeks to come for individuals, businesses and the broader economy from the failure of elected officials in Washington to agree to new stimulus legislation.”

President Donald Trump recently suggested that a stimulus deal between the White House and Democrats won’t be passed before the Nov. 3 election.

“After the election, we’ll get the best stimulus package,” Trump told reporters Tuesday as he boarded Air Force One. The president’s comments came after the Senate left on Monday for their October recess, following the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

In a separate report on Thursday, the Department of Commerce announced that U.S. economic output in the third quarter grew by 33.1 percent, on an annualized basis, the largest expansion on record.

The Commerce Department said the record rebound reflects the reopening of the economy and resumption of business activity following lockdowns spurred by the outbreak of the CCP virus.

“The increase in third quarter GDP reflected continued efforts to reopen businesses and resume activities that were postponed or restricted due to COVID-19,” the agency stated.

Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump, said in a statement that the record economic rebound is a “validation of President Trump’s policies which create jobs and opportunities for Americans in every corner of the country.”

Murtaugh highlighted the Trump administration’s policy of “cutting taxes and reducing regulations and red tape,” which he said “clear the way for American ingenuity and our entrepreneurial spirit to thrive.”

Still, while the economy recovered a large portion of outbreak-related losses, it remains below pre-pandemic levels.

“Growth remains lower than where it ended 2019, which means it isn’t yet time to hang the ‘mission accomplished’ banner,” Hamrick told The Epoch Times.

The campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a statement reacted to the GDP figure: “This report underscores three inescapable truths about Donald Trump’s economy: we are in a deep hole and President Trump’s failure to act has meant that Q3 growth wasn’t nearly enough to get us out of; the recovery is slowing if not stalling; and the recovery that is happening is helping those at the top, but leaving tens of millions of working families and small businesses behind.”

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