On Earth One, unlike Earth RNC, jobless rate soars again
For the 22nd week in a row last week more than one million applied for jobless benefits. | AP

WASHINGTON—The nation’s unemployment lines kept growing, despite all the RNC happy talk about the economy, in the week ending August 22, with the Labor Department reporting yet another 1,429,397 people filed for jobless benefits. They sought either state benefits, federal checks, or both.

In the real world of Earth One, unlike in the alternate universe of the Republican National Convention, when adjusted for seasonal factors, the state claims alone rose from 821,591 to 1.006 million. It’s the 22nd straight week that more than a million people sought unemployment insurance benefits.

None of this, of course, was mentioned at the ongoing Republican National Convention.

In his acceptance speech tonight, manipulating the White House as an illegal backdrop, Oval Office occupant Donald Trump is expected to brag about what he claims, in a lie, was the greatest economy ever—before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Trump has so botched both the coronavirus response and the economic recovery that the U.S. leads the world in both numbers of jobless workers due to closures forced by the pandemic, and number of illnesses and deaths from the coronavirus.

The latest coronavirus data from the most reliable source, Johns Hopkins University, were that starting on March 13, when the pandemic was declared, and running through 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time on August 27, 5.824 million people had tested positive for the coronavirus and 179,743 had died. That’s 24% of world cases and 22% of the dead.

The  BLS calculated there are 27.012 million unemployed workers claiming benefits. Private estimates put the number at double that. And buried in a report footnote was another harrowing statistic: The U.S. workforce is shrinking. As of August 22, it was down to 146.126 million overall, and that includes the jobless, who thus comprise 18.46% of all workers.

Thousands of those jobless can’t seek the federal weekly $600 checks anymore. That program ended on July 31. The Democratic-run House wants to extend it through January 31 and said so as a key part of HR6800, the Heroes Act, which it passed 100 days ago in May.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has deep-sixed it. Trump opposes the $600, and is offering $300, but only in a handful of states. And at least 20 of the Senate’s 53 Republican-member majority want to give jobless workers nothing at all, says Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“That means people on UI are now are forced to get by on the meager benefits which are in place without the extra payment, which are typically around 40% of their pre-virus earnings,” says Heidi Shierholz, policy director for the Economic Policy Institute. “It goes without saying that most folks can’t exist on 40% of prior earnings without experiencing a sharp drop in living standards and enormous pain.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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