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Economy in Brief

State & Pandemic Assistance Initial Claims at 2.2 Million; Continuing Rises to 32.6 Million
by Gerald D. Cohen  July 16, 2020

• State initial jobless claims edged down to a still extremely-elevated 1.300 million in the week ending July 11.

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance new filers decline to 928,488.

• Continuing claims for state programs decline to 17.3 million; PUA increases to 14.3 million.

• Twenty-five states had insured unemployment rates above 10%, Nevada remains above 20% for ten consecutive weeks.

State initial jobless claims for unemployment insurance decreased to 1.300 million during the week ending July 11 from a slightly downwardly-revised 1.310 million (was 1.314 million). The Action Economics Forecast Survey anticipated 1.225 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 changing conditions, decreased to 1.375 million from 1.435 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 928,488 in the week ending July 11 from an upwardly-revised 1.046 million (was 1.039 million). PUA claims now peaked at 1.348 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 17.338 million in the week ending July 4, from a downwardly-revised 17.760 million (was 18.062 million). Continuing PUA claims, which are lagged an additional week, increased to 14.283 million from 13.877 million (was 14.363 million). Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims increased to 936,431 in the week ending June 27. 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 11.9% in the week ending July 4; the previous week was revised down to 12.2% from 12.4%. 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 increased to 32.6 million -- matching the previous late-May peak -- or 20.4% 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 3.8% and Nevada at 20.9%. Nevada has been above 20% for 10 consecutive weeks. Twenty-five states had rates over 10%. The largest states ranged between 6.8% for Florida and 17.0% 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) 07/11/20 07/04/20 06/27/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Initial Claims 1,300 1,310 1,408 499 218 221 244
  4-week Average 1,375 1,435 1,499 -- -- -- --
Initial Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) 928 1,046 997 -- -- -- --
Continuing Claims -- 17,338 17,760 923 1,701 1,756 1,961
  4-week Average -- 18,272 19,010 -- -- -- --
Continuing Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) -- -- 14,283 -- -- -- --
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 11.9 12.2

(Jul 2019)

1.2 1.2 1.4
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