Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) MGN ImageWASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week for a second straight week to 778,000, evidence that the U.S. economy and job market remain under strain as Coronavirus cases surge and colder weather heighten the risks.The Labor Department’s report Wednesday said that jobless claims climbed from 748,000 the week before. Before the virus struck hard in mid-March, weekly claims typically amounted to only about 225,000. They shot up to 6.9 million during March before dropping, yet they remain historically high more than eight months later, with many businesses unable to fully reopen.The spike in virus cases is intensifying pressure on companies and individuals, with fear growing that the economy could suffer a “double-dip” recession as states and cities reimpose restrictions on businesses.“With infections continuing to rise at an elevated pace and curbs on business operations widening, layoffs are likely to pick up over coming weeks,″ said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “Even as job growth is continuing, the labor market remains under stress and far from complete recovery.″ The total number of people who are continuing to receive traditional state unemployment benefits dropped to 6.1 million from 6.4 million the previous week. That figure has been declining for months. It shows that more Americans are finding jobs and no longer receiving unemployment aid. But it also indicates that many jobless people have used up their state unemployment aid — which typically expires after six months.More Americans are collecting benefits under programs that were set up to cushion the economic pain from the pandemic. For the week of Nov. 7, the number of people collecting benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program — which offers coverage to gig workers and others who don’t qualify for traditional aid — rose by 466,000 to 9.1 million.And the number of people receiving aid under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program — which offers 13 weeks of federal benefits to those who have exhausted state jobless aid — rose by 132,000 to 4.5 million.All told, nearly 20.5 million people are receiving some type of unemployment aid. (Figures for the two pandemic-related programs aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations.)The intensifying pandemic is threatening to accelerate the pace of layoffs as more states and localities limit public gatherings and mandate fewer hours and smaller capacities for restaurants, bars and other businesses. Regardless what governments do, many Americans are likely to stay home — and away from local businesses — until they feel safe again.The Conference Board, a business research group, reported Tuesday that consumer confidence weakened in November, pulled down by lowered expectations for the next six months.The data firm Womply says that 21% of small businesses were shuttered at the start of this month, reflecting a steady increase from June’s 16% rate. Consumer spending at local businesses is down 27% this month from a year ago, marking a deterioration from a 20% year-over-year drop in October, Womply found.The heart of the problem is an untamed virus: The number of confirmed infections in the United States has shot up to more than 170,000 a day, from fewer than 35,000 in early September. The arrival of cold weather in much of the country could further worsen the health crisis.Meanwhile, another economic threat looms: The impending expiration of the two supplemental federal unemployment programs the day after Christmas could end benefits completely for 9.1 million jobless people. Congress has failed for months to agree on any new stimulus aid for jobless individuals and struggling businesses after the expiration of a multi-trillion dollar rescue package it enacted in March.Most economists warn that without more government aid, hardships will deepen for individuals, small companies and localities and states, which will likely have to slash services and jobs.The expiration of benefits will make it harder for the unemployed to make rent payments, afford food or keep up with utility bills. Most economists agree that because unemployed people tend to quickly spend their benefits, such aid is effective in boosting the economy.When the viral outbreak struck in early spring, it flattened the economy with stunning speed. Employers slashed 22 million jobs in March and April, sending the unemployment rate rocketing to 14.7%, the highest rate since the Great Depression.Since then, the economy has regained more than 12 million jobs. Yet the nation still has about 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic erupted.
Categories: Editorial, OpinionFor The Daily GazetteAccess to information and public records is crucial in order for student journalists to serve the public and share information that may otherwise not be accessible for professional journalists in the field. Student journalists learn by going out and reporting in the field. We try to practice the same professional strategies the professionals use.When we use the Freedom of Information Law, we too are pulling back the dark curtain that sometimes shields information from the public.In training to produce professional journalism, students are sent to gather information by interviewing government officials and using the Freedom of Information Law to acquire public records about various subjects. When we make efforts to collect information for stories, government officials sometimes don’t offer us the same courtesies they do to professional journalists. Members of the city Common Council have asked students to contact them after a meeting through email, text, or social media rather than staying for an interview because they’re rushing to go home. These stories are treated as breaking news events to prepare us for the real world. We compete with local news organizations to scoop news and features. Sources tend to categorize student journalists as unprofessional, untrained, or unsure of what we are doing in the field. This mindset contributes to sources often stalling our efforts to get to the truth.Transparency between sources and the reporter is important for various reasons.One reason is that it builds rapport for the source to share intimate stories for which to connect with the readers. To get to these stories, student journalists interview people multiple times to gain an understanding of who the person is. We are trained to conduct interviews with a central focus and ask many questions, but most of all, listen to our subjects. Students conduct intense research prior to their interviews. However, our path to reporting stories is often thwarted before the research or interview has begun. Student journalists provide a public service to their communities when writing about neighborhood issues.When elected officials are transparent and forthright with student journalists, they’re demonstrating the behaviors that landed them in office. According to the Open Meetings Law, minutes and agendas are to be available to the public one week after the executive session.When representatives of local governments obstruct access to information or resist simple requests for public documents, they are violating the spirit of our open records laws.Students reporters impact the local media.Last month, an Alabama newspaper printed an editorial calling for the return of the KKK, and that event became national news. How? Student journalists took a photo of the editorial and away it went.We regularly use Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to obtain records from government outlets ranging from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to the city’s fire department reports. Document-based journalism is something we are taught from day one. It’s the toughest kind of reporting, but the results and effects of the final publication are rewarding, and it can lead to real change.When a government agency like the Corrections Department makes information available online, student journalists and the public benefit from access to that information.When reporters at Saint Rose updated a story about a hit-and-run crash involving a student who died, access to the state’s database enabled those students to update the story for their community of readers.No other local news outlets reported that fact.That’s why Freedom of Information and Open Meetings laws are so critical, as they allow not just journalists, but the public as well, to see what elected officials are doing, especially when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars.Seriah Sargenton is a senior at The College of Saint Rose in Albany studying communications with a minor in creative writing. She is the assistant editor of The Chronicle, the college newspaper. David Meister is a junior from East Greenbush studying broadcast journalism. He is the sports editor of The Chronicle and vice president of Saint Rose Television. Caroline Aurigemma is a senior studying communications at St. Rose. She is the copy editor and photography editor of The Chronicle and president of Saint Rose Radio Club. All are students in Dr. Cailin Brown’s advanced journalism class.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census