By Agence France-Presse
Job losses in the United States are slowing but totaled an unheard-of 38.6 million since the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns began, while officials debate what additional steps will be needed to rescue the beleaguered economy.
Another 2.43 million Americans were put out of work last week, fewer than the previous week but still among the highest figures on record, according to the latest Labor Department data released Thursday.
Meanwhile, other reports showed US housing sales collapsed last month, while manufacturing continues to decline.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits appeared to have passed the peak hit in late March, but economists say joblessness is likely worse than the figures indicate since many people do not qualify for traditional aid.
“The dramatic spike in unemployment claims is trending down, but it still completely overshadows any precedent,” Kate Bahn, director of Labor Market Policy at the Center for Equitable Growth, said on Twitter, noting that the latest number was three times higher than the record prior to the pandemic.
Democrats in Congress are calling for the Republican-controlled Senate to pass a $3.3 trillion spending measure approved by the House of Representatives last week to revitalize the economy, but President Donald Trump’s administration has rejected the bill as he encourages more state government to loosen the lockdowns.
“We did the right thing, but we now want to get going… you’ll break the country if you don’t,” he told African American leaders in a visit to Michigan, a key election battleground state.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed 93,406 people in the US and infected nearly 1.6 million others, according to John Hopkins University, despite widespread business shutdowns from mid-March to stop the virus’s spread.