Unemployment Claims Show Another 1.5 Million Filings: Live Updates


1.5 million file state unemployment claims in the latest weekly tally.

Businesses are reopening, but the layoffs won’t quit.

Another 1.5 million people applied for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

It was the 13th straight week that state filings topped one million. Until the coronavirus crisis, the most new claims in a single week had been 695,000, in 1982.

Claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for self-employed workers, independent contractors and others ineligible for standard benefits, added 760,000 to the total.

“It’s a sustained hemorrhaging of jobs unlike anything we’ve seen,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank.

Economists said recent layoffs, though smaller than the wave in March and early April, suggested that the crisis was reaching deeper into the economy.

Hilton Worldwide, the hotel operator, said this week that it was eliminating 2,100 corporate jobs globally and would extend previous furloughs and cuts in hours and wages for 90 days. AT&T disclosed plans to shed 3,400 technician and clerical jobs nationwide and permanently close more than 250 stores, according to one of its unions. The gym chain 24 Hour Fitness said it was filing for bankruptcy protection and would permanently close more than 100 locations.

With no revenue for months, small businesses must find ways to pay for the new sanitation regimens, thermometers, plexiglass, masks and other items necessary to open, without knowing whether customers will return.

“None of the relief packages have included specific funding for safety retrofitting, purchasing of safety equipment or even helping business getting a handle on uniform P.P.E. for employees and customers,” said Amanda Ballantyne, executive director of the Main Street Alliance, an advocacy group for small business.

Some businesses are taking a slow approach. At first, Chris Lynch and Michael Samer weren’t sure what to do about their ocean adventure tours business, Everyday California, when they got the go-ahead in late April.

Mr. Lynch and Mr. Samer decided to reopen with curbside kayak and surf rentals only, keeping their retail shop and tour business closed. Then, as they felt more comfortable, they reintroduced tours at a 50 percent capacity with everyone wearing a mask. They also invested in their neglected online shop.

The bet paid off: They increased what had been a small number of online merchandise sales by 750 percent in May, allowing them to bring back about 20 employees to help with shipping and marketing.

Wall Street faced another day of unsteady trading on Thursday, with stocks drifting between negative and positive territory as investors considered new data on unemployment claims and the latest reports on fresh coronavirus outbreaks.

The S&P 500 was flat, after having started the day with a decline. European stocks were slightly lower.

Concerns about a rise in new coronavirus cases around the world have collided with expectations for a quick economic recovery in recent days and stocks have become somewhat directionless as a result. It’s a consolidation that many Wall Street analysts have described as long overdue, after the S&P 500 ripped higher with a string of gains from late March to early June.

But it also reflects growing uncertainty about the economic picture going forward.

A report out Thursday showed another 1.5 million U.S. workers applied for state unemployment benefits last week. Not all the unemployment claims reported on Thursday necessarily reflect new layoffs. Some states are still working through backlogs of claims filed earlier in the crisis; in other cases, people filing under multiple programs may be double-counted.

But three months into the crisis, there is little doubt that layoffs remain elevated. Economists warn that job losses could worsen if government support that has helped prop up the economy is allowed to lapse too soon.

Investors were also awaiting the latest word on coronavirus infections in the United States, which have shifted to states like Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma. On Wednesday, Oklahoma recorded 259 new cases, a single-day record for the second day in a row. The number of infections also rose in Beijing, raising questions about China’s efforts to control the outbreak.

The Bank of England said Thursday that it would hold interest rates steady at 0.1 percent but increase its purchases of British government bonds by 100 billion pounds, or about $125 billion, as it tries to help shore up the economy.

Dean Turner, an economist at UBS Wealth Management in London, said the decisions were not a surprise. The British government, he said, is issuing large amounts of debt to finance its response to the pandemic, including paying many employees furloughed by their companies. The central bank is supporting those programs by buying up similar volumes of bonds in order to keep yields and financing costs low. The bank’s purchases were set to soon reach the £200 billion target set in March, and so it needed to raise the limit.

In a statement, the bank reported signs of recovery following an economic contraction of around 26 percent in March and April. Payments data showed that consumer spending was picking up in May and June. Housing activity was also increasing, the bank said. The bank said, though, that there was ”a risk of higher and more persistent unemployment” in Britain.

China plans a credit injection to jump-start its economy.

China aims to speed up an infusion of credit into its economy this year as it tries to restart growth after coronavirus the outbreak.

Speaking at the annual Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai on Thursday, Yi Gang, the governor of the People’s Bank of China, said that the authorities saw total social financing — a broad measure of credit in the Chinese economy — rising to more than 30 trillion renminbi, about $4.24 trillion, this year. That would be more than $600 billion above the 2019 level.

Simon Property, the biggest mall operator in the United States, said last week that the pandemic “had a uniquely material and disproportionate effect on Taubman” compared to other retail real estate companies, pointing to its high proportion of indoor malls versus open-air strip centers. It also faulted Taubman for failing to mitigate the impact of the pandemic by “not making essential cuts in operating expenses and capital expenditures.”

Taubman said on Wednesday that Simon Property’s comparison was flawed, noting that its malls were “hardly in the same industry” as strip centers, and that they did not have grocery stores or anchors like Home Depot or Target. The company also said that Simon Property was kept informed about its actions in response to the pandemic.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • Kroger, the grocer with about 2,800 stores in 35 states, said Thursday that its sales increased to $42 billion in the quarter that ended May 23, up from $37 billion in the same period last year. Digital sales jumped 92 percent during the period marked by pandemic shutdowns. The company, which has about 500,000 employees, said it had hired 100,000 workers.

  • Carnival Corporation, the giant cruise company, reported Thursday that it lost $2.4 billion in the three months that ended on May 31. Carnival, which offered refunds or credits for future cruises to passengers whose voyages were canceled by the pandemic, said that about half asked for their money back. Customer demand for 2021 was increasing, it said, with about two-thirds of bookings in a recent six-week period coming fresh and one-third from customers using credits. Carnival said it could not say when it would return to normal operations.

Reporting and research were contributed by Ben Casselman, Tiffany Hsu, Coral Yang, Sapna Maheshwari, Mohammed Hadi, Amy Haimerl, Lauren Leatherby, Ron Lieber, Tara Siegel Bernard, Elizabeth Paton, Stacy Cowley, Jeff Sommer, Stanley Reed, Carlos Tejada and Gregory Schmidt.



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