Initial jobless claims unexpectedly climbed last week, according to the Labor Department, despite an ongoing recovery in the U.S. employment market—and has given new hope that another round of coronavirus stimulus checks will be approved soon.
The data showed that first-time filings for unemployment insurance for the week ending June 12 came in at a shade more than four hundred ten thousand, compared to three hundred seventy-five thousand the week prior. The figure was the highest registered since mid-May.
However, most of the increase in jobless claims came from Pennsylvania and California, according to unadjusted data.
“Factors related to the pandemic, such as caregiving needs, ongoing fears of the virus, and unemployment insurance payments appear to be weighing on employment growth,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell noted Wednesday during a news conference following this week’s central bank meeting.
“These factors should wane in coming months against a backdrop of rising vaccinations leading to more rapid gains in employment,” he added.
Such news could potentially offer even more fuel to the idea of quickly green-lighting a fourth stimulus check, which has been proposed by both Democratic lawmakers and ordinary citizens who are still financially struggling amid the ongoing pandemic.
The White House also appeared to say that another round of stimulus isn’t totally off the table.
“(President Joe Biden) is happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what’s most important to the economy moving forward,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a recent press briefing.
“But he’s also proposed what he thinks is going to be the most effective for the short-term for putting people back to work, to getting through this pivotal period of time and also to making us more competitive in the long-term,” she added.
Democratic lawmakers have also become more vocal regarding additional stimulus checks to assist cash-strapped families.
“We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your … long-term economic plan,” Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and his colleagues wrote in a recent letter to Biden. “This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.”
Proponents of more stimulus are pointing to data that indicate that government-issued payments over the past year have helped millions of Americans avoid financial ruin.
According to a recent University of Michigan study, it discovered that household food shortages plummeted by 42 percent and financial instability 43 percent. Furthermore, the mental health of Americans markedly improved, with frequent bouts of anxiety and depression sinking by more than 20 percent.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.