Doubts about the continuity of the aid have temporarily lowered initial unemployment claims./Archivo
BRIDGET BENNETT / AFP / Getty Images
The year 2020 was a lousy year for employment to the end. The force that COVID is gaining prevents improvements and that is not changed by the calendar. According to the Department of Labor, in the week ending January 2, 787,000 workers applied for unemployment insurance for the first time.
Added to this are 161,000 more workers who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, according to its acronym in English. These are benefits for the unemployed who normally do not have access to this benefit program because they are an independent contractor or freelancer.
It is a program created by the CARES Act to support the economy and has been expanded in the last stimulus package, which came into effect at the end of 2020, for an additional 11 weeks.
In total there are 948,000 people who in a week have become dependent on these aid during a time when the economic key is a pandemic that is devastating neighborhoods and collapsing hospitals in one of the worst moments since it was declared in the country. There is no truce in unemployment and at this moment some 19.17 million workers are receiving some kind of help for it.
Last week’s figures reflect some improvement as there are 152,000 fewer initial claims due to a reduction in PUA claims that were in question until just the end of the year due to their expiration on December 31. President Donald Trump decided to sign the congressionally approved pandemic aid package after taking his time to do so.
Once the program has been expanded, it is to be expected that these aid demands will rise again.
It is also expected that applications for unemployment extensions will rise, which were also extended in the last aid package approved at the end of December. Workers who have exhausted all aid can request an additional 11 weeks of support but have to reapply.
On Friday, January 8, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to present the result of the pandemic in the labor market in 2020 with the employment and unemployment figures for December. In November job creation was low and many workers have stopped looking for an occupation. Unemployment is officially 6.7% but affects a higher percentage. In New York it is 8.4%.