Okay, so the news on new claims for unemployment was sort of not too bad. About 869,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment in regular state programs for the week ended on December 17. That was lower than in the prior week but still above the levels in early November. Another 398,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, one of two federal programs to expand jobless benefits set to expire this month.
But that was the best news on the economy today. A report from the Commerce Department showed that personal income fell in November for the second straight month and that consumer spending fell for the first time since April.
Personal income fell 1.1% in November and is down 3.6% since July, as decreases in federal assistance more than offset rising income from wages and salaries. Consumer spending, which helped drive the initial recovery after lockdowns lifted last spring, is now falling, dropping 0.4%as the weather cools and virus cases rise. Spending on dining and travel both fell last month, the Commerce Department said.
Economists were optimistic in looking past the news in a belief that the coronavirus stimulus/relief package passed by Congress on Monday will be signed by President Donald Trump. “Without the aid, it seemed like we were on the precipice and there was definitely concern that we could have had a double-dip recession,” Daniel Zhao, senior economist with the career site Glassdoor, told the New York Times. “The position that we find ourselves in now is significantly stronger than where we were even a week ago.”
President Trump, however, threatened to veto the legislation in a video on Tuesday.