First-time jobless claims remained elevated for the week ending March 6, arriving at 712,000, down from an upwardly revised 754,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.
The total number of people on some form of unemployment insurance increased to 20.1 million for the week ending Feb. 20, up from 18 million previously.
Overall continuing claims eased to 4.14 million for the week ending Feb. 27, down from 4.3 million, while those filing for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance increased to 478,001, up from 436,138.
We would strongly urge people to view this data in light of the coming extensions to unemployment benefits under the new American Rescue Plan Act that will be signed into law on Friday.
Investors and policymakers should anticipate an increase in jobless claims in the coming weeks as more people apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Inside the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, unemployment benefits approved under the CARES Act last spring were extended through Sept. 6.
Under the plan, $205 billion was allocated for immediate aid and $284 billion was allocated for fiscal year 2021. That includes increasing the duration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits to as long as 79 weeks, from 50 weeks, for people who do not qualify for regular benefits.
It also extended to 53 weeks, from 24 weeks, benefits under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for those who have exhausted regular benefits.
The first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received would be excluded from certain taxpayers’ adjusted gross income beginning in 2020. The provision would apply to taxpayers with income that’s less than $150,000.
The bill also provided $2 billion for the Labor Department to address fraud and improve access to unemployment benefits. Those funds can be used to provide grants to states and territories to develop verification tools to accelerate claims processing.
For more information on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.