Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Fewer People Need Unemployment Benefits; New Claims Dropped by 9% Last Week

Tracking jobless claims by state: week ending October 17

Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week. Both new and total claims dropped significantly, implying that there is job creation and people are able to find jobs again.

Specifically, the unadjusted new jobless claims totaled 756,617 in the week ending October 17, a decrease of 9% from the previous week. In the meantime, continued claims, which measure the number of people receiving unemployment checks, fell once again to nearly 8 million by more than 1 million fewer applicants within a week. With continued claims declining for the last 6 weeks, the number of people receiving unemployment checks decreased by nearly 5.4 million during this period.

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.

Thirty-nine states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending October 17. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Michigan (-63%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Arkansas (-35%) and the District of Columbia (-27%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in Virginia, Wyoming, and Kansas. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 48% in Virginia; 35% in Wyoming; 24% in Kansas.

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, 10 million people received benefits in the week ending October 3 using the federal government’s PUA program. Hawaii, California, and New York had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 17% of the labor force in Hawaii received PUA benefits in the week ending October 3 followed by California (15%) and New York (12%).

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 510,000 more people applied a new claim for PEUC in the week ending October 3 compared to the previous week. West Virginia, New Hampshire, and Hawaii were the states with the highest increase of people applying for PEUC within a week. In West Virginia, the number of new PEUC applicants rose nearly 8 times from that of a week earlier. However, fewer people applied for longer-term benefits in Texas (-21%), North Carolina (-13%), and Alabama (-12%) 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.

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