Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Jobless Claims Fell Significantly Last Week

Tracking Jobless Claims by State: Week Ending November 28

Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week. Specifically, the unadjusted new jobless claims totaled 713,824 in the week ending November 28, a decrease of 15% from the previous week. In the meantime, continued claims, which measures the number of people receiving unemployment checks, fell once again to nearly 5 million. With continued claims declining for the last 12 weeks, the number of people receiving unemployment checks decreased by 8.1 million during this period. Some people may have exhausted the regular benefits or some others may have found a job. With a one-week lag, the number of people applying for extended benefits is decelerating - rising at a slower pace - implying that many people are able to find a job.

However, based on another indicator, which shows the bigger picture trend, employment is growing slower than expected. Specifically, the job market slowed further in November with the U.S. economy adding fewer than expected jobs in November. As a result, the unemployment rate inched down to 6.7%, from 6.9% in October.

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 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.

Forty states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending November 28. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Oklahoma (-54%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by South Dakota (-49%) and Alabama (-44%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in Oregon, Indiana and Arizona. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 55% in Oregon; 22% in Indiana; 17% in Arizona.

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 8.9 million people received benefits in the week ending November 14 using the federal government’s PUA program. New York, Hawaii and Pennsylvania had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 13% of the labor force in New York received PUA benefits in the week ending November 14 followed by Hawaii (12%) and Pennsylvania (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 60,000 more people applied a new claim for PEUC in the week ending November 14 compared to the previous week. Washington, Hawaii and Louisiana were the states with the highest increase of people applying for PEUC within a week. In Washington, the number of new PEUC applicants rose 38% compared to a week earlier. However, fewer people applied for longer-term benefits in Texas (-22%), Alabama (-9%) and Utah (-8%) 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.