Even with millions of Americans vaccinated and the COVID-19 pandemic receding, the U.S. economy has been recovering in fits and starts over the first half of the year.
According to Breitbart, the latest Labor Department report revealed an unexpected increase in new jobless claims over the previous week.
Much to the chagrin of Democrats who attempt to downplay or deny the evidence, it appears that increased unemployment benefits approved during the height of the pandemic represent one factor in the increased jobless numbers. A lack of childcare in areas where schools and daycare facilities are closed or operating at a limited capacity is also being blamed for the trend.
According to CNBC, economists predicted that new jobless claims would decrease to 360,000 for the week ending June 12, down from the prior week’s total of 375,000.
Instead, the number rose to 412,000 with the bulk of that increase coming from Democratic-led California and Pennsylvania.
The less-than-stellar news still represents a clear improvement over the same period last year, at which time jobless claims hovered around 1.5 million per week. As for continuing claims, the current number sits at about 3.5 million — compared to nearly 18 million one year ago.
Of course, the economy has improved dramatically over the intervening year. The latest jobs report, however, reveals that there is still plenty of work to do before it can be considered a full recovery.
As Breitbart noted, the economy currently has about 7.6 million fewer jobs than it did just prior to the pandemic.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell explained: “Factors related to the pandemic, such as caregiving needs, ongoing fears of the virus, and unemployment insurance payments appear to be weighing on employment growth.”
He went on to predict that such factors “should wane in coming months against a backdrop of rising vaccinations leading to more rapid gains in employment.”
Meanwhile, a separate report released by the Federal Reserve showed that inflation remains a particular concern for consumers, though Powell attempted to assuage fears in his statement on the matter.
“The prices that are driving higher inflation are from categories that are being directly affected by the recovery from the pandemic and the reopening of the economy,” he said. “Prices that have moved up really quickly because of the shortages and bottlenecks and the like, they should stop going up. And at some point, they in some cases should actually go down.”