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COVID-19

Unemployment claims still historically high despite increased in reopenings

Associated Press Jun 18, 2020
The latest figure from the Labor Department marks the 11th straight weekly decline in applications since they peaked at nearly 7 million in March. Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Unemployment claims still historically high despite increased in reopenings

Associated Press Jun 18, 2020
The latest figure from the Labor Department marks the 11th straight weekly decline in applications since they peaked at nearly 7 million in March. Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

About 1.5 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a historically high number, even as the economy increasingly reopens and employers bring some people back to work.

The latest figure from the Labor Department marks the 11th straight weekly decline in applications since they peaked at nearly 7 million in March as the coronavirus shut down much of the economy and caused tens of millions of layoffs. The decline was much smaller than in recent weeks, falling just 58,000.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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