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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Fell Further
by Sandy Batten  July 15, 2021

• Claims fall to post-pandemic low.

• Continuing claims also fell.

• Insured jobless rate holds at post-pandemic low.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 360,000 in the week ended July 10 from an upwardly revised 386,000 (initially 373,000) in the previous week rose. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 362,000 initial claims. The four-week moving average fell to 382,500 from 397,000 in the prior week. Both readings are the lowest in the pandemic period.

Initial claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program fell to 96,362 from a slightly upwardly revised 100,590 (initially 99,001) in the previous week. The PUA program provides benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular state unemployment insurance benefits, such as the self-employed. Given the brief history of this program, these and other COVID-related series are not seasonally adjusted.

Continuing claims for regular state unemployment insurance in the week ended July 3 fell to 3.241 million from 3.367 million in the prior week. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.4%, a post-pandemic low. The rate reached a high of 15.9% in the week of May 9, 2020.

Continued claims for PUA fell to 5.687 million in the week ended June 26, the lowest since the week ended April 25, 2020, from 5.825 million in the prior week. Continued PEUC claims again fell sharply to 4.710 million in the week ended June 26 from 4.908 million in the previous week. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program covers people who have exhausted their state unemployment insurance benefits.

The total number of all state, federal, PUA and PEUC continuing claims declined to 13.837 million, the lowest level since the first week of April 2020 and a decrease of 372,279 from the previous week. The level is down from the high of 33.228 million in the third week of June 2020. These figures are not seasonally adjusted.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs continued to vary widely. In the week ending June 26, the highest insured unemployment rates were in Nevada (4.30%), Georgia (4.21%), Rhode Island (4.20%), Connecticut (3.95%) and California (3.61%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.41%), Utah (0.63%), Florida (0.65%), Nebraska (0.70%) and Kansas (0.77%). Insured unemployment rates in other large states included New York (3.34%), Texas (1.78%) and Illinois (3.48%). These 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) 07/10/21 07/03/21 06/26/21 Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Initial Claims 360 386 368 -75.7 1,352 218 220
Initial Claims (NSA) 383 383 363 -74.7 1,353 218 221
Initial Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) 96 101 114 -89.9 -- -- --
Continuing Claims -- 3,241 3,367 -81.4 10,380 1,699 1,754
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 3,119 3,264 -82.1 10,370 1,704 1,763
Continuing Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) -- -- 5,687 -55.2 -- -- --
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.4 2.4

(July 2020)

7.1 1.2 1.2
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