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Economy in Brief

State & Pandemic Assistance Continuing Claims Total 31.2 Million; 19.7% of Labor Force
by Gerald D. Cohen  June 11, 2020

• Initial jobless claims declined to a still extremely-elevated 1.542 million in the week ending June 6.

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance new filers down to 705,676.

• Continuing claim for state programs decreased to 20.9 million; PUA at 9.7 million.

• Thirty-three states had insured unemployment rates above 10%, four over 20%.

Initial jobless claims for unemployment insurance declined to 1.542 million during the week ending June 6 from a slightly upwardly-revised 1.897 million (was 1.877 million). The Action Economics Forecast Survey anticipated 1.5 million claims. While substantially lower than the weekly peak of 6.9 million new filers in late March, the current level of initial claims remains well above the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982. The four-week moving average of initial claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, but is less important at the moment because of the rapidity of changing conditions, decreased to 2.002 million from 2.228 million.

Claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which covers individuals such as the self-employed who are not qualified for regular/state unemployment insurance, declined to 705,676 in the week ending June 6 from an upwardly-revised 796,813 (was 623,073). Numbers for this and other federal programs are not seasonally adjusted.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance decreased to 20.929 million in the week ending May 30, from a downwardly-revised 21.268 million (was 21.487 million). Continuing PUA claims, which are lagged an additional week, declined to 9.716 million from 10.926 million. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims increased to 518,942 in the week ending May 23. This program covers people who were unemployed before COVID but exhausted their state benefits and are now eligible to receive an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance, up to a total of 39 weeks.

The insured rate of unemployment declined to 14.4% in the week ending May 30. However, this data does not include the federal pandemic assistance programs. If you include the latest data available, which is lagged one week, the number of continuing claims totals 31.2 million which represents 19.7% of the labor force.

The state insured rates of unemployment -- which do not include federal programs -- continued to show wide variation with South Dakota at just 4.7% and Maine at 26.9%. Thirty-three states had rates over 10%, and four states were over 20%. The largest states ranged between 7.3% for Florida and 18.7% for New York. The state rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment claims going back to 1967 are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database, and they are summarized monthly in USECON. Data for individual states are in REGIONW. The expectations figure is from the Action Economics Forecast Survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 06/06/20 05/30/20 05/23/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Initial Claims 1,542 1,897 2,123 601 218 221 244
  4-wk Average 2,002 2,288 2,608 -- -- -- --
Initial Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) 706 797 1,310 -- -- -- --
Continuing Claims -- 20,929 21,268 1,131 1,701 1,756 1,961
  4-week Average -- 21,988 22,392 -- -- -- --
Continuing Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) -- -- 9,716 -- -- -- --
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 14.4 14.6

1.2
(Jun 2019)

1.2 1.2 1.4
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