The US employment picture remains murky. Today the labor department reported a significant increase in initial unemployment claims for the week ending November 14. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs totaled 742,000, up 31,000 from the prior week. The cause for the up-tick of course is the persistent increase in Covid-19 cases nationwide. The outlook for both the pandemic and for employment is not great.

The CDC’s announcement that people essentially cancel all Thanksgiving plans, especially air travel and large family gatherings, should add to the increase in joblessness. It might mitigate more Corona virus infections and deaths. At that, the holiday season will be a sad and unhappy one.

One positive area of the economy is housing, where existing home sales in October rose 4.3% after a 9.9% advance the month before. Although they were down for the month, they were still strong and should continue to rise as interest rates look like they will remain low.

Internationally, the outlook is no better than the one for the US. The IMF and G20 have stated that governments should stay the course with their stimulus packages. They should utilize both monetary and fiscal tools to stimulate economic growth. How successful these initiatives will be remains to be seen, especially with the US political climate continuing to be in turmoil. But low interest rates should help.

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