When lawmakers in Washington D.C. moved toward a second COVID-19 stimulus package on Friday, new data showed that another 385,000 Americans became long-term unemployed in November, increasing pressure for another round of financial relief.
The most recent employment report, released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that the number of Americans who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more has reached 3.9 million. This group now accounts for more than a third (36.9 percent) of all unemployed people.
The number of people employed outside of agriculture, however, rose by 245,000 at the same time, bringing the total unemployment rate in the United States down to 6.7 percent.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported remarkable job growth in transportation, warehousing, professional and health care, while government and retail employment declined last month.
Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, responded to the latest job report: “With safe and effective vaccines on the way, we know that brighter days lie ahead. Unfortunately, we are currently stuck in the middle of winter with an ailing economy and a raging pandemic,” said Mark Hamrick, Senior Economic Analyst at Bankrate.
When the Federal Bureau presented the October employment report, it showed that non-farm payrolls rose by 638,000 in October, reducing the unemployment rate by one percentage point, while long-term unemployment rose by 1.2 million.
The November employment numbers were released as Democrats and Republicans approached agreement on the draft of the next COVID-19 stimulus package, with Democratic leaders putting their weight behind a bipartisan plan much smaller than the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act they originally advocated.
The $908 billion compromise proposed by nine senators includes a $300-week offer of 18 weeks of federal unemployment benefits and emergency funding for small businesses affected by the shutdown and restrictions of the coronavirus.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that they would support the package “in a spirit of compromise” and encouraged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to come to the table.
“Of course, we and others will offer improvements, but there is an urgent need for action, and we believe that by negotiating in good faith we could reach an agreement,” the legislators said. “Given the upcoming availability of the vaccine, it is important that additional funds are allocated for distribution to bring the vaccine to market.
“Given the urgency of meeting the needs of the American people and the hope that the vaccine brings, it is time for Leader McConnell to sit down with the Democrats to finally make a genuine, all-party effort to meet the needs of the country.
Speaking to the Senate plenary on Thursday, McConnell said there had been “some hopeful signs” of agreement, adding that the process was moving “in the right direction” following the Democrats’ compromise.