US jobless claims jump to 419,000

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (July 22, 2021) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week from the lowest point of the pandemic, even as the job market appears to be rebounding on the strength of a reopened economy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that jobless claims increased last week to 419,000, the most in two months, from 368,000 the previous week.

Americans are shopping, traveling and eating out more as the pandemic has waned, boosting the economy and forcing businesses to scramble for more workers. Companies have posted the highest number of available positions in the two decades that the data has been tracked. Hiring has picked up, though businesses say they often can't find enough people who want to work.

Some business analysts have said one of the problems employers are facing is that they are having to compete with the Biden administration's ongoing unemployment benefits which offer workers more to stay home then to go out to work.

Complaints by companies that they can't find enough workers have led 22 states to prematurely end a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit, which comes on top of state jobless aid. Twenty states have ended their participation in two other federal programs — one of which provides benefits to the self-employed and gig workers and and another that serves people who have been out of work for six months or longer.

Officials in two other states, Indiana and Maryland, had sought to end the supplemental aid programs but were blocked by court rulings. Nationally, the programs are supposed to expire in early September.

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