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Economy in Brief

U.S. State Initial Claims Rise for Second Consecutive Week
by Gerald D. Cohen  July 30, 2020

• State initial jobless claims increased to 1.434 million in the week ending July 25, the second consecutive weekly gain.

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance new filers declined to 829,697.

• Continuing claim for state programs rises to 17.0 million; PUA decreases to 12.4 million.

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

State initial jobless claims for unemployment insurance rose to 1.434 million during the week ending July 25 from a slightly upwardly-revised 1.422 million (was 1.416 million). This is the second consecutive weekly increase, suggesting some backtracking in the job market, which is consistent with other high frequency job-market data such as the Dallas Fed's Real-Time Population Survey Unemployment Rate. The Action Economics Forecast Survey anticipated 1.4 million claims. 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, edged up to 1.369 million from 1.362 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 829,697 in the week ending July 25 from a downwardly-revised 936,073 million (was 974,999). PUA claims 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 increased to 17.018 million in the week ending July 18, from a downwardly-revised 16.151 million (was 16.197 million). Continuing PUA claims, which are lagged an additional week, decreased to 12.413 million from an unrevised 13.180 million. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims increased to 1.055 million in the week ending July 11. 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 increased to 11.6% in the week ending July 18 from an unrevised 11.1%. 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 increased to 30.5 million or 19.1% of the labor force.

The state insured rates of unemployment -- which do not include federal programs -- continued to show wide variation with Idaho at just 3.7% and Nevada at 22.1%. Nevada has been above 20% for 12 consecutive weeks. Twenty-two states had rates over 10% and Hawaii along with Nevada had a rate over 20%. The largest states ranged between 8.6% for Florida and 16.3% 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. The Dallas Fed's Real-Time Population Survey can be found in SURVEYW. 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) 07/25/20 07/18/20 07/11/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Initial Claims 1,434 1,422 1,308 564 218 221 244
  4-week Average 1,369 1,362 1,377 -- -- -- --
Initial Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) 830 936 955 -- -- -- --
Continuing Claims -- 17,018 16,151 902 1,701 1,756 1,961
  4-week Average -- 17,058 17,494 -- -- -- --
Continuing Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) -- -- 12,413 -- -- -- --
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 11.6 11.1

(Jul 2019)

1.2 1.2 1.4
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