Weekly Jobless Claims Reach Record-Breaking Low: Does This Mean No More Stimulus Aid?

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The number of new unemployment claims filed just hit another record.

Key points

  • New jobless claims totaled just 184,000 for the week ended Dec. 4.
  • That's the lowest number of weekly claims on record since September 1969.

When the coronavirus outbreak first erupted in March 2020, many businesses were forced to shutter on a temporary basis in an effort to curb the spread. That led to instant layoffs and an unemployment crisis like never before.

In April 2020, the national jobless rate reached a record high, and weekly jobless claims were getting filed by the millions. These days, however, things have improved on the unemployment front. In November, the national jobless rate fell to 4.2%, reaching its lowest level since March 2020.

Weekly jobless claims have been falling as well. And recently, they reached a record low.

A positive sign for the economy

For the week ended Dec. 4, new jobless claims came in at 184,000. That's the lowest number of new unemployment claims recorded since Sept. 6, 1969, which saw 182,000 new claims. Economists were expecting a low number of claims for the week, but their estimates sat at 211,000 -- well above the actual number of claims filed.

These days, the labor market is filled with job openings. A return to in-person school and widespread COVID-19 vaccine availability could make it easier for more people to reenter the workforce. Earlier this year, when many schools were still remote and vaccine supply was limited, that wasn't the case.

In fact, many companies are so desperate to hire these days that they're raising wages and offering other incentives, like better health benefits and sign-on bonuses, in an effort to recruit staff. Plus, many are offering perks like flexible work schedules, which especially benefits parents and caregivers going back to work.

The impact on stimulus aid

At this point, new jobless claims have been low for weeks. That combined with November's low unemployment rate makes another round of stimulus checks in hit Americans' bank accounts highly unlikely.

Of course, that's not necessarily the news the public wants to hear. While it's encouraging to see the unemployment situation improving, the reality is that inflation is wreaking havoc on a lot of people's finances. Getting a lifeline in the form of a stimulus check could help many households better keep up with rising expenses.

But while we're not likely to see another stimulus round in the near term, CNN reports that raises may be generous in 2022. That could help more workers maintain their buying power in the face of increasing living costs. Plus, if companies grow increasingly desperate to hire, they may start throwing even more incentives at workers, which could help take the place of a direct government payday.

It's also worth noting that the boosted Child Tax Credit, which was initially only meant to apply to 2021, will likely get extended to the 2022 tax year (since it already passed a House vote). While that credit only benefits parents, it should still help a lot of households stay afloat and shore up their finances in the absence of a fourth stimulus check.

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