Layoffs in the US remain stubbornly high as jobs market struggles

With less than four months to go before United States voters go to the polls to elect their next president, a rapid rebound from the economic ravages of coronavirus is looking increasingly unlikely for the world’s largest economy.

Some 1.3 million Americans filed for state unemployment benefits last week, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Thursday – marking the 17th consecutive week that jobless claims have held above 1 million.

Factor in the number of Americans filing for federal jobless benefits last week, and the total climbs to 2.4 million.

The stubbornly high number signals that layoffs remain widespread as states and cities across the country wrestle with a spike in infections. In Florida – where confirmed cases of COVID-19 have dramatically increased – jobless claims for the week ending July 11 soared to 129,408, more than double the previous week’s number.

“The risk may be for additional layoffs going forward as some states reimpose more restrictive measures to combat surging COVID-19 cases,” Oxford Economics Lead US Economist Nancy Vanden Houten wrote in a note to clients.

All told, some 32 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits from state and federal programmes. But the flow of funds from Washington to America’s millions of unemployed workers is set to taper considerably.

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