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October 1, 2021

Why All the ‘Unexpected’ Jobless Claims?

COVID clampdowns made a comeback in September, hurting the jobs market.

There are nearly 11 million job openings in America right now. Yet week after week we’re treated to mainstream media headlines about how jobless claims rose “unexpectedly.” The September jobs report isn’t due out until next Friday, but in the meantime, we know that the American employment picture is still not great. Why?

If 11 million positions are open, and if enhanced jobless benefits that kept people unemployed have finally ended, why have the last three reports on weekly jobless claims featured “unexpected” increases? Yesterday, it was 362,000. Last week, it was 351,000, and the week before, it was 332,000. Continuing claims are now at 2.84 million.

“With enhanced unemployment benefits coming to a close,” reports CNBC, “the total of those enrolled under all programs fell to 11.25 million, a drop of 856,440. A year ago, 26.6 million were receiving benefits under programs the government had developed to combat massive pandemic-related layoffs.”

Hmm, 11 million “enrolled under all programs,” with 11 million job openings. Just saying.

Recent reports are a far cry from the millions of weekly jobless claims we were seeing when government officials were shuttering (mostly small) businesses for 15 days to stop the COVID spread. You’d think the jobs market would be going gangbusters nearly 600 days later.

Perhaps therein lies the answer. September featured a regression in lots of places in terms of dealing with the coronavirus. Governments, schools, and businesses all clamped down again in the face of spiking cases. While hospitals are dealing with an increased load of COVID cases, they’re firing nurses over vaccination status. Other businesses are doing likewise, thanks in part to Joe Biden’s mandate.

Ergo, more unemployed people, and fewer jobs filled.

This persistently off-kilter jobs market is a major contributing factor to inflation. If businesses can’t get people to make, deliver, or sell their products, those products are going to be delayed and cost more.

According to the latest figures, inflation is up by the most in 30 years. “The rate of inflation in the 12 months ended in August edged up to 4.3% from 4.2%,” reports MarketWatch, “the highest rate since 1991.” And the Commerce Department says the April through June quarter saw the worst inflation since 1982. It’s eased only very slightly since then.

While the Federal Reserve has spent most of this year insisting that inflation is “transitory,” there are finally rumblings from central bankers who, MarketWatch says, “acknowledged inflation could remain high well into 2022 because of ongoing shortages of crucial business supplies and and even labor.”

With Joe Biden trying to take the absolute worst of Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, and Franklin Roosevelt, it’s a big question whether the economic picture will improve much in the foreseeable future.

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