WASHINGTON - The surge of unemployment compensation claims eased a bit in the U.S. last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, but nearly another 3 million workers still sought benefits as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the world’s largest economy. In two months now, 36.5 million jobless workers have filed for compensation, more than one of every five employees in the U.S. labor force of more than 164 million.
The government last week said the official April unemployment rate was 14.7%, but key Trump administration economic officials say it likely is higher and could approach 25% in the coming weeks. The government says the national economy dropped 4.8% in the first quarter, but that was before the full impact of the pandemic became apparent.
Congress and President Donald Trump have already authorized $3 trillion in aid to most Americans and businesses. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives wants to boost the assistance even further, but Republican lawmakers are balking, while the president has adopted a wait-and-see stance.
Trump, in an interview Thursday on Fox Business, contended that Democrats want to see the American economy fail to bolster the chances of former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden to defeat him in the November presidential election.
“The less successful we are in reopening, the better they are, maybe for an election," the president said. "They would rather see our country fail, and you know what that means, because part of failure is death, than have me get elected.”
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