National jobless claims fall slightly but remain elevated

A "Now Hiring" sign was placed in front of Navistar in Springfield in late September. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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A "Now Hiring" sign was placed in front of Navistar in Springfield in late September. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

The ‘easy gains’ are over, one economist says.

Nearly seven months after national lockdowns started, the economic recovery appears to have stalled, with unemployment essentially treading water.

In the week ending September 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 837,000, a decrease of 36,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.

The previous week’s level was revised up by 3,000 from 870,000 to 873,000.

In Ohio, residents filed 17,944 initial jobless claims last week, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).

However, there were 301,274 continued jobless claims from previous weeks, which is 475,028 down from the peak earlier this year.

The federal government will report the national unemployment rate Friday In August, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.4 million, with the jobless rate falling to 8.4 percent.

In Montgomery County, there were 842 first-time applications for benefits for the week ending Sept. 26, with 14,569 claims continuing from previous weeks. In Miami County, those numbers were 139 and 1,995, respectively.

Clark County saw 139 new claims for benefits, with 2,726 claims continuing from previous weeks.

In Butler County, 468 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time, with 8,880 claims ongoing. In Warren County, those numbers were 235 and 4,063.

The total number of new jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last 28 weeks has reached a total of 1,733,734, the state said.

Over the last 28 weeks, ODJFS has distributed more than $6.8 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 813,000 Ohioans.

Applications nationally for state unemployment benefits appeared to level off in September, indicating that the economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed.

Across the U.S., claims for unemployment benefits from state programs generally plateaued a bit under 900,000 since the last week of August. That’s well below the peak number of claims in March, when the pandemic triggered nearly 7 million claims in one week, an historic number.

And the economy is still problematic. Job cuts announced by American employers jumped to 118,804 last month, up 2.6% from August’s number of 115,762, according to a report released Thursday by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“We are setting new records for job cuts even though things have improved since the earliest days of the pandemic,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Gus Faucher, PNC chief economist, noted that joblessness remained high.

“The pace of layoffs has slowed dramatically from the worst of the crisis in the spring, but job losses are still far higher than they were before the viral recession; just this week Disney announced that it is laying off 28,000 workers,” Faucher said. “Many of the unemployed are being rehired, but millions are still out of work.”

He added: “The pace of net job creation is likely to slow going forward, as the easy gains from business reopenings have largely been realized.”

Also Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Department said personal income fell 2.7% compared to July, with most analysts pointing to a drop in unemployment benefits.

Still, consumer spending rose by 1% in August from a month earlier, the government also said.

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