Labor Department data on Thursday morning is expected to show that applications for jobless benefits remained high last week as employers continued to lay off workers six months after the coronavirus pandemic first rocked the U.S. economy.
Economists surveyed by FactSet anticipate little change from the week before, when initial claims for state benefits totaled 790,000 without seasonal adjustments.
That is far below the more than six million people a week who were filing for benefits during the peak period of layoffs last spring. But hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their jobs each week, and millions more who were laid off earlier in the crisis are still relying on unemployed benefits to meet their basic expenses. Applications for benefits remain higher than at the peak of many past recessions, and after falling quickly in the spring, the number has declined only slowly in recent weeks.
“Compared to April, they’re trending down, but if you’re comparing to the pre-Covid era they are still so high,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist for the career site Indeed.
The recent letup in progress is particularly worrisome, Ms. Konkel said, because warm weather has allowed many businesses to shift operations outdoors. As colder weather hits Northern states in the weeks ahead, restaurants and other businesses are likely to begin laying off workers again.
“We’re losing steam, which is definitely not good heading into the winter,” she said.
The outlook for German growth continued to improve in September, according to a survey of business managers that has a good track record of predicting the direction of Europe’s largest economy.
The survey of business expectations by the Ifo Institute in Munich, probably Germany’s most closely watched economic indicator, rose for the fifth month in a row.
But economists say the rebound in Germany and the rest of the eurozone is likely to slow in coming months because of a resurgence of the coronavirus.
The bloc is entering a “tricky transition period” as government stimulus programs start to run their course, said Marion Amiot, senior economist at S&P Global Ratings. “The reopening of economies was the easiest part of the recovery,” she said in a note.