Thursday is here and that means we bring you the weekly unemployment claims report. It is an improvement and finally ends the increase in claims. Also, talks in Washington D.C. are not improving, believe it or not.
The number of new applications for unemployment insurance fell below 1 million last week for the first time since the first wave of coronavirus lockdowns, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The unemployment rate remains at 10.2%.
Between August 2 and 8, a seasonally adjusted total of 963,000 Americans filed new claims for jobless benefits, 228,000 fewer claims than the roughly 1.2 million applications from the week before.
An additional 488,622 Americans applied for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program created in March to cover those not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance, 167,377 fewer than the previous week.
The total number of Americans receiving some form of jobless benefits also fell to 28.2 million in the week ending July 25, the Labor Department reported, a decline of nearly 3.1 million from the previous week.
Federal Progress Update
Talks on a new coronavirus relief package are going nowhere, increasing the likelihood that there won’t be a deal until at least September and the economy will be cut off from additional stimulus for weeks.
There’s no been no signal that negotiations will resume or that congressional Democrats and the administration are on the precipice of breaching the impasse. Both sides appear to be hoping that political calculations will help bring them back together, arguing that the looming November elections should pressure vulnerable incumbents into wanting a deal to help bolster their reelection prospects.
With no deal in sight, the perfect storm of legislative matters looms as coronavirus relief discussions could collide with a push to avoid a government shutdown only weeks before the general election.
Lawmakers are already discussing trying to merge coronavirus funding and a continuing resolution just weeks before Election Day, with Pelosi saying that they want a COVID-19 deal before the funding deadline, Sept. 30.
Now today, the Senate made the decision to leave Washington, D.C. until September. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had kept the chamber in session this week, which was technically the first in its August recess, as a last-ditch attempt to create space for the administration and Congressional Democrats to get an agreement. With talks stalemated, senators argue there is little reason for them to keep holding daily, roughly hour-and-a-half sessions.
Latest from the Governor
With coronavirus trends in most of Illinois moving in the wrong direction, Governor Pritzker on Wednesday again warned that the state might reimpose stricter measures to slow the spread of the highly contagious disease. Pritzker repeated a plea for local officials to “impose greater mitigations on a targeted basis to bring down the number of infections or the positivity rate.”
“Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before the state will be forced to step in and roll things back on a regional basis, something none of us wants,” Pritzker said.
Five regions, including some north and south suburban areas, parts of central Illinois and Metro East, have seen an increase in their seven-day average positivity rates. Another four regions, including Chicago, suburban Cook County, the northwest part of the state and southern Illinois are holding flat with the same seven-day average positivity rate as a week ago, Pritzker said.
The two regions that saw a slight drop in recent days encompass the western suburbs, including DuPage County, and east-central Illinois.
Post Service Push
Senator Durbin spoke to reporters outside Springfield’s main Post Office, pushing the need for federal support of the Postal Service to meet the higher demand for package shipping and the crush of mail-in ballots to be used for the Nov. 3 election.
Durbin noted that $25 billion for the Postal Service was in a COVID-19 relief bill, called the HEROES Act, which passed by the U.S. House but not the Senate, and he said the service needs backing.
“It’s prudent for us to invest in the Postal Service now, to make sure they can handle the volume of mail and packages that are likely to occur in the next six or eight weeks,” Durbin said.
Illinois election officials, under a state law designed to make mail-in voting more accessible so people worried about the virus don’t have to go to the polls, have been sending out applications for ballots to people who had voted or applied to vote since November 2018.
Finally, a little different news to share today. U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin announced they passed a bipartisan bill through the Senate to create a Route 66 Centennial Commission. It would be charged with coordinating and organizing events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the iconic route in 2026. Route 66 is also known as the “Main Street of America.”
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry