The number of Americans filing new claims for state unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 853,000 in the week ending Dec 5, soaring to their highest level since the week of Sept. 19, the Labor Department reported. The figure is an increase of 137,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The unemployment rate for last week was 3.9% — an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. According to WSJ, continuing claims, which track the aggregate total of Americans applied for jobless benefits, increased by 230,000 to 5.76 million nationally — it was the first increase since August. Furthermore, for the week ending December 5, 52 states reported 427,609 workers applied for PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance), a program for the self-employed and gig workers, the report shows.
According to data from job search site ZipRecruiter, the number of job openings fell slightly in the first week of December. The new report shows that an average of 10.7 million job openings posted each day on online sites throughout the U.S. this month — which is down slightly from November’s 10.9 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. The figure shows an indication of a slowing labor market amid rising coronavirus infections and declining household budget support. The U.S. job growth slowed sharply in November from the month before. Employers added nearly 245,000 jobs in November, down from 610,000 in October, while the number of job openings in October was well below the 11.1 million people who were unemployed that month, the department’s data showed.
The Treasury Department said that U.S. budget deficit in the first two months of the budget year — soared to $429 billion, which is 25.1% higher during this time period compared to last year, as government spending on the COVID pandemic skyrocketed. Treasury officers reported this was driven by a 9% increase in outlays to $887 billion due to spending on healthcare and coronavirus rescue programs and on unemployment compensation. Meanwhile, government revenue dropped 2.9% to $457 billion as the pandemic forced millions of layoffs and federal income tax revenue dropped. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the deficit in 2021 is projected to be 8.6 percent of GDP, according to the WSJ report.
U.S. consumers’ sentiment unexpectedly increased in late November and early December, amid prospects for a vaccine coming soon to tame the pandemic. According to the WSJ, the U.S. consumer sentiment index rose 4.5 points to 81.4 in the two weeks ended Dec. 9, beating market forecasts of 75.5. The University of Michigan said Friday that current month’s read represents an increase from November’s 76.9 point read. The current economic conditions rose from 87 to 91.8 — the highest since March, while a measure of expectations improved from 70.5 to 74.7 points. Meantime, the inflation outlook for the year ahead slowed (2.3% vs 2.8%) while expectations for the next 5 years were unchanged at 2.5%, the data shows.
Gas sales during Thanksgiving week 2020 fell 8.4%, or about 185 million gallons, from the previous week ending Nov.28, bringing demand for the fuel to its lowest level for the holiday week since 1997, according to IHS Markit Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) data. OPIS said some U.S. regions saw gasoline sales drop by more than 20% last year during Thanksgiving week. Gasoline sales in the Midwest were off 23.3% from last year, led by Illinois which saw a year-on-year deficit of 26%. New Jersey was the hardest-hit state, with gasoline volumes plunging by nearly 30% from 2019. Gasoline demand over the next 90 days may fall to historic lows as coronavirus caution, winter weather and post-holiday cocooning, said IHS Markit executive director Tom Kloza.
U.S household net worth rose to $123.52 trillion in Q3, an increase of $3.8 trillion, or 3.2%, from Q2, according to a Federal Reserve report. The value of equities increased approximately $2.8 trillion while the value of real estate held by households rose a more modest $400 billion amid climbing property values across some big markets as well as suburban areas that have benefited from a flight from U.S. cities. Household debt rose 5.6% to $16.4 trillion, its quickest pace in at the very least two years. We’ve seen home prices rise, market prices for tradable instruments rise and savings increase as many Americans haven’t been able to spend money on everything from sporting events to weddings, said KPMG’s Chief Economist, Constance Hunter.
Meanwhile, we have a new Guinness World Record. A man in the US named David Rush said that he set the world record by slicing through 68 grapes with a samurai sword — beating the previous record of 57. His neighbor Jonathan Hannon assisted by throwing the grapes into the air with both hands while Rush stood on the balance board and sliced them with his samurai sword. David has broken more than 150 Guinness records for juggling, balancing, and many more with a mission to promote STEM, according to the UPI.