WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell for a third straight time last week, the latest sign that employers are laying off fewer people as they struggle to fill a record number of open jobs and meet a surge in consumer demand.
Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell to 375,000 from 387,000 the previous week. The number of applications has fallen steadily since topping 900,000 in early January as the economy has increasingly reopened in the aftermath of the pandemic recession.
Filings for unemployment benefits have traditionally been seen as a real-time gauge of the job market’s health, but the measure’s reliability has deteriorated during the pandemic. In many states, the weekly figures have been inflated by fraud and by multiple filings from unemployed Americans as they navigate bureaucratic hurdles to try to obtain benefits.
Those complications help explain why the pace of applications remains comparatively high. Before the pandemic paralyzed the economy in March 2020, unemployment applications were running at about 220,000 a week.
Many states, for example, require self-employed and gig workers to first seek conventional unemployment benefits — and be turned down — before they can apply through a program that was set up last year to provide jobless aid to them for the first time. That program, and a $300-a-week federal supplemental unemployment benefit, will expire nationwide in the first week of September. About 22 states, mostly led by Republican governors, have already canceled both programs.
A total of about 12 million people are receiving unemployment benefits, down sharply from the previous week’s figure of nearly 13 million. That drop reflects that more Americans are being hired and no longer receiving benefits. Another factor is the cancellation in many states of the federal program for the self-employed and a separate program for the long-term jobless.
For now, nearly 8.7 million people continue to receive aid through those programs and will lose their benefits when those programs expire nationwide on Sept. 6.
So far at least, there has been little sign that the delta variant has depressed hiring or prompted layoffs. In July, employers added a substantial 943,000 jobs, the government said last week, and the unemployment rate sank from 5.9% to 5.4%. Average hourly earnings jumped a sharp 4% in July from a year earlier, indicating that employers have felt compelled to raise pay. Still, that report was based on a survey that was conducted in mid-July, before a surge in COVID-19 delta cases took off.
On Monday, the government reported that employers posted more than 10 million available jobs in June, the most on records dating back to December 2000. That meant there were more open jobs than there were unemployed people that month. Yet those figures, too, predate the recent spike in COVID cases.
But credit card spending on airline tickets has fallen 20% from a mid-July peak, according to economists at JPMorgan Chase, suggesting that in response to the increase in infections, consumers may be starting to slow their travel spending, which had jumped in recent months.
And after returning to pre-pandemic levels for much of June and July, restaurant traffic dropped about 10% below that level in the past week, according to restaurant software provider OpenTable.
Surprise Growth Makes South Africa’s Economy Bigger Than Before Pandemic Struck
(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s economy is bigger than before the coronavirus pandemic struck, after growing faster-than-expected in the third quarter on increased farm output.
Gross domestic product expanded 1.6% in the three months through September, compared with a contraction of 0.7% in the previous quarter, Statistics South Africa said Tuesday in a report released in the capital, Pretoria. The median of 12 economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey was for growth of 0.4%. The economy grew 4.1% from a year earlier.
Full-year growth may also surprise on the upside. The central bank forecasts an expansion of 1.8% and the National Treasury 1.9%. For the nine months through September, an early indicator of where full-year growth may land, GDP grew by 2.3% from last year.
The 2.3% expansion in the first three quarters is a “reasonable indicator” of the annual number, said Joe de Beer, deputy director-general of economic statistics at the agency. “I can’t see it differing by more than” half a percentage point “from just a mathematics point of view,” he said.
“After taking into account the firmer-than-expected third-quarter figure, we expect growth to average closer to 2.5% in 2022, before slowing to just above 1% next year,” said Sanisha Packirisamy, an economist at Momentum Investments.
At an annualized 4.6 trillion rand ($265 billion) in the third quarter, GDP is about 53 billion rand bigger than the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic struck. A contraction in the prior three months had reversed gains made in the first quarter that made it bigger.
The quarterly expansion comes even after Africa’s most-industrialized economy experienced record power cuts because state electricity utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. couldn’t keep pace with demand from its old and poorly maintained plants. Industries behind the better-than-expected growth were agriculture and transport, which grew 19.2% and 3.7% quarter-on-quarter respectively.
Strong exports of mineral, vegetable and paper products also contributed.
Still, South Africa’s economy remains stuck in its longest downward phase since World War II and hasn’t grown by more than 5% annually in 15 years. The government’s National Development Plan, a 2012 economic blueprint co-authored by President Cyril Ramaphosa, says that level of expansion is needed for sustainable job creation in a nation where almost a third of the workforce is unemployed.
Slow structural reforms, political uncertainty and high levels of crime continue to weigh on fixed-investment spending in South Africa, with private companies wary of committing large sums of money to domestic projects. Gross fixed capital formation climbed 0.3% from the previous quarter.
Household spending, which comprises about two-thirds of GDP, declined 0.3% in the third quarter. It’s likely to come under further strain from high inflation and interest rates that are at a level last seen more than five years ago.
Weak growth is forecast for the final quarter because of continued rolling blackouts and a strike over wages that took place at Transnet SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned logistics company that operates most of the harbors in the nation, in October. The central bank forecasts expansion of 0.1% this quarter.
Lackluster economic growth and mounting price pressures pose a threat to social stability in one of the world’s most unequal societies and may stymie efforts to reduce fiscal deficits and debt.
–With assistance from Simbarashe Gumbo and Rene Vollgraaff.
(Updates with economist comment in paragraph five. An earlier version corrected household spending figure in paragraph 11)
World Economy Heads for One of Its Worst Years in Three Decades
(Bloomberg) — The world economy is facing one of its worst years in the three decades as the energy shocks unleashed by the war in Ukraine continue to reverberate, according to Bloomberg Economics.
In a new analysis, economist Scott Johnson forecasts growth of just 2.4% in 2023. That’s down from an estimated 3.2% this year and the lowest — excluding the crisis years of 2009 and 2020 — since 1993.
However, the headline figure is likely to mask diverging fortunes, with the euro area starting 2023 in recession and the US ending the year in one. By contrast, China is projected to expand more than 5%, boosted by a faster-than-expected end to its zero-tolerance Covid strategy and support for its crisis-hit property market.
Differences will also be on display when it comes to monetary policy after a year in which central banks “dashed toward restrictive territory in a pack,” Johnson wrote.
“In the US, with wage gains set to keep inflation above target, we think the Fed is headed toward a terminal rate of 5%, and will stay there till 1Q24. In the euro area, meanwhile, a more rapid decline in inflation will mean a lower terminal rate and the possibility of cuts at the end of 2023.”
In China, where authorities are torn between a desire to support the recovery and concern about the weakness of the currency, “limited” rate cuts are on the cards.
Read more: Global Growth Set to Slow From 3.2% in 2022 to 2.4% in 2023
Securing good jobs, clean air, and a strong economy – Prime Minister of Canada
Autoworkers have been a keystone of the Canadian economy for generations. By investing in the future of the auto industry, we are not only securing good middle-class jobs, we are fighting climate change, and building an economy that works for generations to come.
Since January alone, Canada has secured several historic manufacturing deals for electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids, and batteries – deals that will create and secure thousands of good, middle-class jobs and provide the world with clean vehicles. Today, we are seeing the results of one of those deals start to roll off the line.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was joined today by Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, to open Canada’s first full-scale EV manufacturing plant, General Motors of Canada Company’s (GM) CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. Starting today and going forward, the plant will build fully electric delivery vans – the BrightDrop Zevo 600 – which will help cut pollution and keep our communities healthy for our children and grandchildren.
Thanks in part to a $259 million investment from the Government of Canada, GM’s CAMI assembly plant was able to retool its operations to build these electric vans. By 2025, the plant plans to manufacture 50,000 EVs per year. This investment has helped secure thousands of well-paying, high-quality jobs across GM facilities, and is helping advance the electrification of Canada’s automotive sector.
The Government of Canada will continue to work to attract investment from companies around the world as we build our EV supply chain – from mining critical minerals to manufacturing batteries, and vehicles. By taking action today, we are positioning Canada as a global leader in EVs, fighting climate change, securing good jobs, and building an economy that works for all Canadians – now and into the future.
“When we invested in GM’s project to build Canada’s first full-scale electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, we knew it would deliver results. Today, as the first BrightDrop van rolls off the line, that’s exactly what we’re seeing. This plant has secured good jobs for workers, it is positioning Canada as a leader on EVs, and will help cut pollution. Good jobs, clean air, and a strong economy – together, that’s the future we can build.”
“Today is proof that our historic investments in EV manufacturing are paying off. With the first BrightDrop vans coming off the assembly line, we’re seeing the skill of Canadian workers making a huge difference as the world moves to EVs. Our government, in partnership with GM, is cementing Canada’s leadership in the EV supply chain.”
“This milestone represents GM at our best – fast, flexible and first in the industry. The BrightDrop Zevo is a prime example of GM’s flexible Ultium EV architecture, which is allowing us to quickly launch a full range of electric vehicles for our customers. And, as of today, I am proud to call the CAMI EV Assembly team the first full-scale all-electric manufacturing team in Canada.”
“This is a very exciting moment – a revolution in the way we transport people and goods. Today marks a huge day for BrightDrop, as we expand our footprint and begin producing the Zevo electric vans at scale, and a huge milestone for Canada on the road to a brighter future. Opening the CAMI plant is a major step in providing EVs at scale and delivering real results to the world’s biggest brands, like DHL Express, who will be our first Canadian customer.”
- The Government of Canada’s $259 million investment supports GM’s more than $2 billion project to reignite production at its Oshawa assembly plant, after operations stopped in 2019, and transform its CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll.
- The investment is being made through both the Strategic Innovation Fund and its Net Zero Accelerator Initiative.
- The Government of Ontario made a matching contribution of up to $259 million toward the project.
- Founded in 1918, General Motors of Canada Company (GM) is one of the largest automotive manufacturers worldwide. It is headquartered in Oshawa, Ontario, and is one of Canada’s largest automotive manufacturers.
- GM is planning to introduce 30 new electric vehicles by 2025, eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035, and become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040.
- The automotive sector contributes $16 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product and is one of the country’s largest export industries.
- The automotive sector supports the employment of nearly 500,000 Canadians.
- The 2030 Emissions Reductions Plan, released in March, puts Canada on track to achieving our goal of cutting emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 while continuing to build a strong economy.
- To make zero-emission vehicles more affordable and accessible, the Government of Canada offers incentives of up to $5,000 off the purchase or lease of a light-duty zero-emission vehicle through the Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) Program. Since May 2019, close to 176,000 Canadians have taken advantage of this program.
- Since 2015, the Government of Canada has invested $400 million in building approximately 35,000 zero-emission vehicle charging stations across the country.
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