Jobless claims on Long Island remained relatively unchanged from the previous week as negotiations over proposed boosts to unemployment benefits remain up in the air.
New jobless claims on the Island fell slightly to 5,501 last week, a 1.2% decrease from the previous report of 5,568 claims locally, according to the data released by the state Labor Department Thursday. While claims remain well below the record high of over 59,000 reported in April, unemployment filings remain stubbornly high on a historic basis.
During the same week in 2019, 1,273 jobless filings were made, meaning last week’s claims were more than 330% above last year.
While the number of claims did not drop dramatically, that’s better news than the alternative, said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group.
"It’s encouraging that it hasn’t increased and it suggests that the economy is still on a plateau," he said. But pointing to a lack of federal aid for the unemployed and state governments, Rizzo said it's tough to say how long the region's economy can stave off more job losses.
"Without further federal assistance, I’m not sure how long this plateau can be maintained," he said. Pointing to forecasted jumps in COVID cases this fall, aid is going to be needed for state governments, unemployed Americans and small business owners. "I would have expected [claims] to get worse and worse and I think it will unless we get some federal assistance."
Jobless Islanders saw their last payments from FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance program at the end of September. The temporary relief program gave eligible, unemployed New Yorkers an extra $300 in jobless aid for the span of six weeks.
The program has since ended, leaving some unemployed Long Islanders receiving as little as $104 in weekly jobless benefits.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump called for an end to negotiations between the House and Senate over a new stimulus deal that would include aid for jobless Americans, though negotiations over a stimulus package appear to be back on in Washington.
"There is a lot of uncertainty around what’s going on," said Richard Vogel, dean of the school of business and professor of economics at Farmingdale State College.
Addressing continued talks in Washington over another stimulus, Vogel said it’s important for the unemployed to get some sort of aid to help maintain our consumer-based economy.
"The unemployed still need help," Vogel said. "We have this sort of bifurcated recovery. We have certain fields where things are recovering very well. We have others…that may not recover."