Expanded pandemic-related unemployment benefits lapsed two weeks ago and Congress has yet to pass another round of fiscal relief. Although lawmakers remain divided on the details, we believe pressure to reach a compromise will intensify in the second half of this month and we believe a deal is forthcoming. In the most recent week, initial jobless claims increased by 963,000, a decline from the prior week level of more than a million. The level of continuing unemployment claims (where the data is lagged by one week) remained very high in the week of August 1st at about 15.5 million but was down from the prior week level of nearly 16.1 million. Although continuing jobless claims have declined from the peak of nearly 25 million in early May, they remain well above the 2019 average of 1.7 million.