US jobless claims likely remain high as layoffs persist

WASHINGTON — The government will provide its latest picture today of the pace of job cuts in the United States, which remain elevated with the viral pandemic still impeding the economy seven months after it first erupted.

The still-high number of people seeking jobless benefits reflects an economy that has recovered only slightly more than half the 22 million jobs that were lost to the pandemic. Many Americans are enduring unemployment with vastly diminished aid since a $600-per-week federal benefit expired this summer.

The latest weekly report on jobless claims coincides with fading prospects for a new federal rescue aid package that economists say is urgently needed for unemployed workers and struggling businesses, states and cities. Congress remains at an impasse.

At the same time, economists say they have grown more skeptical about the government’s figures for unemployment claims, even though there is little doubt that hiring has slowed and many employers are still cutting jobs.