947,000 new unemployment claims were reported the week of Dec. 5, atop the 533,000 lost the week prior, the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows, as states initiate another round of lockdowns and businesses deploy layoffs as COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide.
For the week ending Nov. 28, the states hardest hit by the jobs losses were California with 139,000, Pennsylvania with 57,000, Michigan with 46,000, Minnesota with 31,000, Indiana with 42,000 and Georgia with 33,000.
So far, California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a Regional Stay Home Order, Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has issued a stay at home advisory stating “only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs of themselves or persons they are caring for” and Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued an extension of the statewide pause on indoor dining and in-person learning.
All this as confirmed new COVID-19 cases have reached 221,000 a day, and probable cases reach more than 415,000 a day, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
These new and continued unemployment claims, if they don’t show up in the December monthly jobs report, will surely turn up in the January jobs report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Either way, the underscore the continued strain that the pandemic and related lockdowns are having on the American people.
In short, the nation is quickly falling into a double-dip recession.
All of which adds urgency to the current $908 billion bipartisan legislation before the U.S. Senate that includes $288 billion for reauthorizing the small business Paycheck Protection Program, $45 billion for critical industries including airlines, $180 billion extending unemployment for Americans still suffering through state lockdowns, $82 billion for schools to safely reopen and $160 billion to state and local governments.
So far only 16 million of the 25 million jobs that were lost as of April 2020 have been recovered, and so we’re definitely not out of the woods yet. After months of recovery, now the numbers look like they are headed in the opposite direction as the pandemic is upon us again.
In the meantime, a Food and Drug Administration panel has recommended approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for rapid distribution, with final approval expected in the coming days.
Here, every day counts, to save as many lives as possible. If it works, then we can begin to put this pandemic behind us—and the lockdowns will finally end. Pray the vaccine works.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.