22 States Have Ended $300 Weekly Unemployment Bonus, 13.2 Million Getting Jobless Aid

Twenty-two states have ended the $300 weekly bonus checks meant to cushion the economic decline from the coronavirus pandemic as 13.2 million people still get some type of jobless aid, down from last year's number of 31.9 million, the Associated Press reported.

Twenty states have dropped out of two other federal aid programs—one that provides benefits to the self-employed and gig workers and other that serves those who have been out of work for six months or longer. Overall, the programs are scheduled to expire nationwide on September 6.

"Beyond weekly ups and downs, the trend in total filings should remain downward over coming weeks. Overall, job growth should pick up and labor shortages should ease as near-term constraints—virus concerns, child-care issues and enhanced unemployment benefits—diminish. But rising virus cases could be a headwind for the labor market and the economy," Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a report.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

22 States Drop $300 Unemployment Bonus
Twenty-two states have dropped the $300 bonus unemployment checks in response to complaints of businesses not being able to hire enough staff. Above, a "we are hiring sign" in front of the Buya restaurant on March 5, 2021, in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Jobless claims dropped by 24,000 to 400,000 last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The weekly applications have fallen more or less steadily this year—from a peak of 904,000 in early to January. But they remain high by historic standards: Before COVID struck the United States in March 2020, claims were coming in at about 220,000 a week.

The job market and overall economy have been recovering from the collapse of the spring of 2020. The rollout of vaccines this year has encouraged businesses to reopen or expand their hours and sent cooped-up consumers back out to visit restaurants, bars and shops.

Still the health crisis isn't over. COVID-19 cases are ticking up as the highly contagious delta variant spreads among the unvaccinated. The United States is reporting an average of more than 50,000 new cases a day, up from fewer than 12,000 a day in late June. The increase in cases could have economic consequences if governments decide to restrict business activity again or if consumers choose to stay at home as a precaution.

For now, though, the economy is so strong that many businesses say they can't find workers. Employers posted a record 9.2 million job openings in May, advertising vacancies faster than applicants can fill them.

22 States Drop $300 Unemployment Bonus
The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits slid last week, another sign that the job market continues to recover from the coronavirus recession. Jobless claims dropped by 24,000 to 400,000 last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Above, a hiring sign is shown in Downers Grove, Illinois, on June 24, 2021. Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press