The number of new jobless claims fell below 300,000 for the week ended Oct. 9 — the first time since COVID-19 hit. Continuing claims fell to 2.59 million people, also the lowest level since the pandemic, but still slightly higher than average. CEI Senior Fellow Ryan Young credits increased COVID safety and a decline in government benefits and urges governments to do more to reduce barriers and resist the urge to splurge:
“One reason for the decline is expiring benefit program extensions, although the number of job openings remains at record levels. While economic fundamentals are in decent shape aside from inflation, the economic recovery is not in the clear just yet.
“The single biggest factor in the recovery has nothing to do with politics or policy—it’s COVID safety. People open up when they feel it’s safe to do so, and they close back up when they don’t. This explains a lot of the yo-yo effect in economic indicators since the pandemic began. Vaccination rates are not yet where they need to be to prevent or slow the spread of new variants, and the FDA has yet to approve promising new treatments, such as vaccines for children under 15 and a pill that can be taken at home.
“There is still plenty that policymakers should do, though. They should scrap the big infrastructure and spending bills. Not only would these add to inflation and debt, they would take enormous amounts of resources away from consumers and capital-needy businesses, and spend them on political projects instead.
“Permits, licenses, and other barriers make it difficult for businesses to adapt to COVID-era conditions and hire new employees. Trade barriers are contributing to supply chain problems that could put a damper on holiday spending. Lightening these loads would improve people’s lives as well as economic indicators.”