The U.S. Department of Labor released some new unemployment figures on Thursday, reporting that 1.4 million new unemployment claims were received last week — which, Guardian reporter Dominic Rushe notes, was "up 109,000 from the previous week" and comes after a period of decreasing unemployment. Liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman discusses the bad economic news in a Twitter thread, lambasting Senate Republicans for wanting to cut unemployment benefits at a time when so many Americans are out of work.
"The unemployment claims number was terrible by any normal standard, although it's kind of the new normal," Krugman tweets. "It's one of various indicators suggesting a stall in the economic recovery."
In February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. had an unemployment rate of only 3.5%. But U.S. unemployment greatly increased as the coronavirus crisis accelerated and many brick-and-mortar businesses found themselves facing stay-at-home orders, social distancing restrictions, and a population \ terrified of the pandemic. U.S. unemployment, the BLS reported, reached 14.7% in April and decreased to 13.3% in May and 11.1% in June. But now, as the number of new coronavirus infections surges in many states, the Labor Department is reporting an increase in unemployment claims.
And according to Krugman, there is no way to sugarcoat the fact that the U.S. continues to cope with double-digit unemployment.
In his thread, Krugman explains, "We really don't know whether the next official employment number, which will be for 'July' but actually a snapshot of the 2nd week, will be a small positive or negative. Politically that may matter; the reality is that either way, we're stuck deep in a hole."
In light of that "reality," Krugman adds, the last thing Senate Republicans should be doing is slashing unemployment aid.
"It's a really terrible time to be cutting off aid to 30 million unemployed Americans," Krugman warns. "But that's what Rs in the Senate are doing, apparently believing that restaurant workers etc. are living the good life on the dole and need to be forced back into their petri dishes."