Fewer Americans applied for a new jobless claim last week. On an unadjusted basis, new jobless claims dropped by 4% to 841,111. However, the number of claims remains well above pre-pandemic levels. In the meantime, continued claims, which measure the number of people receiving checks for regular unemployment benefits, fell to nearly 5.3 million since regular benefits end for many unemployed people. Furthermore, filings declined for the emergency pandemic program, which addresses those who have lost their normal benefits. That total dropped nearly 20,400 to 4.8 million for the week ending December 12, the most recent period for which data is available.
The National Association of REALTORS® closely monitors the weekly claims for unemployment insurance provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since this data is also released for each state, we track the jobless claims activity at the state level. This state-level data report is a very important indicator to watch at economic turning points because it provides detail on what’s happening week by week, rather than each month or quarter.
Twenty-six states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending December 26. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Oklahoma (-33%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Alabama (-33%) and Georgia (-30%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in Delaware, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 54% in Delaware; 49% in Kentucky; 38% in Tennessee.
Here are the top 10 states with the highest increase/decline in jobless claims compared to the previous week:
Moreover, the current release provides information about people filing new and total Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Specifically, the PUA is for the self-employed and others who do not qualify for the regular state unemployment programs. Among 50 states, nearly 8.5 million people received benefits in the week ending December 12 using the federal government’s PUA program. Oregon, Hawaii, and New York had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 16% of the labor force in Oregon received PUA benefits in the week ending December 12 followed by Hawaii (12%) and New York (11%).
Finally, more people applied for extended benefits last week. After exhausting the 26 weeks of regular benefits that typically the states provide to their residents, people are able to apply for longer-term unemployment benefits (up to 13 additional weeks) with the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). Nearly 20,400 fewer Americans applied a new claim for PEUC in the week ending December 12 compared to the previous week. Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota were the states with the highest increase of people applying for PEUC within a week. In Louisiana, the number of new PEUC applicants rose 9% compared to a week earlier. However, fewer people applied for longer-term benefits in New Mexico (-95%), Washington (-11%), and Oklahoma (-11%) during the same period.
The map below shows you the percentage change of layoffs for each state. Click on a state to see how many layoffs occurred every week within the last year.