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COVID & Unemployment

Jobless claims rise; job postings fall

Marielle Segarra Aug 20, 2020
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A dealer at work at a casino in Las Vegas in June. Jobs have fallen dramatically in tourism and hospitality. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

Jobless claims rise; job postings fall

Marielle Segarra Aug 20, 2020
Heard on:
A dealer at work at a casino in Las Vegas in June. Jobs have fallen dramatically in tourism and hospitality. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Jobless claims came out today, and they are back up above 1 million for the week ending Aug. 15, after falling to a (revised) 971,000 the week before. This may be further evidence that the economic recovery is slowing or stalling. One related piece of data that doesn’t exactly bode well for that recovery: job listings are down by about 20% compared to this time last year, according to the jobs site Indeed.com.

They were down by even more in April and May but now the rebound that had started has basically come to a halt. That “suggests the possibility of a quick V-shaped recovery for the labor market continues to diminish,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed. And “that it’s increasingly looking like we’re in for a long haul when it comes to this recovery.”

Job postings have fallen dramatically in industries that you’d expect, like hospitality and tourism, but also in banking and finance and software development.

“We’re at a stage now where we’re seeing a pretty broad hit to postings,” Bunker said. “It’s not just in those sectors of the economy that are directly affected by the coronavirus.”

The numbers give us a sense of how a lot of employers are thinking right now.

“Businesses are less confident about their ability to return to economic normal, and thus, they aren’t hiring as much because they’re concerned about their ability to keep those people employed in the long term,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, which also tracks job listings.

And the numbers tell us what to expect from future unemployment numbers. Because it’s hard to find a job when you can’t find a company that’s hiring.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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