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Economy in Brief

Pandemic & Assistance Initial Claims at 2.2 Million; Continuing Rises to 31.4 Million
by Gerald D. Cohen  June 25, 2020

• State initial jobless claims decreased to a still extremely-elevated 1.480 million in the week ending June 20.

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance new filers at 728,120.

• Continuing claims for state programs declined to 19.5 million; PUA increases to 11.0 million.

• Twenty-nine states had insured unemployment rates above 10%, only Nevada over 20%.

State initial jobless claims for unemployment insurance decreased to 1.480 million during the week ending June 20 from an upwardly-revised 1.540 million (was 1.508 million). The Action Economics Forecast Survey anticipated 1.3 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 1.621 million from 1.782 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, decreased to 728,120 in the week ending June 20 from an upwardly-revised 770,920 (was 760,526). PUA claims peaked at 1.310 million in the week ending May 23. Numbers for this and other federal programs are not seasonally adjusted.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance declined to 19.522 million in the week ending June 13, from a downwardly-revised 20.289 million (was 20.544 million). Continuing PUA claims, which are lagged an additional week, jumped to 11.046 million from 9.374 million (was 9.281 million). Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims decreased to 851,983 in the week ending June 6. 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 decreased to 13.4% in the week ending June 13; the previous week was revised down to 13.9% from 14.1%. This data does not include the federal pandemic assistance programs. If you include the latest data available, which is lagged one additional week, the number of continuing claims was 31.4 million or 19.9% of the labor force. This is up from 30.7 million in the previous week -- which was revised down from 30.9 million -- and the peak of 32.4 million in late May.

The state insured rates of unemployment -- which do not include federal programs -- continued to show wide variation with South Dakota at just 4.5% and Nevada at 22.6% (the only state remaining above 20%). Twenty-nine states had rates over 10%. The largest states ranged between 10.5% for Texas and 17.8% 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) 06/20/20 06/13/20 06/06/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Initial Claims 1,480 1,540 1,566 561 218 221 244
  4-wk Average 1,621 1,782 2,008 -- -- -- --
Initial Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) 728 771 700 -- -- -- --
Continuing Claims -- 19,522 20,289 1,054 1,701 1,756 1,961
  4-week Average -- 20,421 20,751 -- -- -- --
Continuing Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) -- -- 11,046 -- -- -- --
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 13.4 13.9

(Jun 2019)

1.2 1.2 1.4
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