News & Commentary

November 12, 2020

Maxwell Ulin

Maxwell Ulin is a student at Harvard Law School.

Unemployment claims dropped but held steady overall this past week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning.  Around 709,000 Americans filed first-time claims within the past seven days, on top of roughly 300,000 additional claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).  The number of first-time claims marks a new low since March, but unemployment remains stubbornly high overall.  Long-term joblessness is also a growing concern; the number of American who have transitioned over the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PUEC) program following the expiration of their state benefits now exceeds 4.1 million, up from 4 million last week.

Even as Trump continues to contest the election results in unprecedented fashion, a more traditional scramble has begun for cabinet and staff positions within the incoming Biden administration.  Yesterday, President-elect Biden announced his intention to appoint Ron Klain as his Chief of Staff, much to pleasure of progressives.  The fight for Labor Secretary of has been brewing; yesterday Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) publicly confirmed his interest in the position on CNN.  Sanders’s efforts to garner support have been met with mixed reactions from union leaders, however.  And with the Senate destined for either divided leadership or an outright Republican majority, the odds of Sanders’s confirmation appear limited.  In the meantime, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has been actively marshaling support among labor leaders for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, as have AFT President Randi Weingarten and AFSCME President Lee Saunders.  Meanwhile, Michigan Congressman Andy Levin, a former union organizer, has also been jockeying for the top DoL position and has already secured support from CWA and UAW leaders.

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