Economists' Outlook

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Jobless Claims Rose Last Week While Total Claims Continued to Fall

Tracking Jobless Claims by State: Week Ending November 14

More people applied for unemployment benefits last week. Specifically, the unadjusted new jobless claims totaled 743,460 in the week ending November 14, an increase of 3% from the previous week. In the meantime, continued claims, which measure the number of people receiving unemployment checks, fell once again to nearly 6 million. With continued claims declining for the last 10 weeks, the number of people receiving unemployment checks decreased by 7.3 million during this period. Compared to the Great Recession, the current number of people receiving unemployment checks is lower than their number back in 2009.

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-two states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending November 14. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, New Jersey (-41%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Washington (-32%) and Florida (-31%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in Louisiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 325% in Louisiana; 76% in Kentucky; 42% in Virginia.

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 8.7 million people received benefits in the week ending October 31 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 October 31 followed by Hawaii (13%) 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 230,000 more people applied a new claim for PEUC in the week ending October 31 compared to the previous week. Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Kentucky were the states with the highest increase of people applying for PEUC within a week. In Hawaii, the number of new PEUC applicants was nearly 6 times higher than their number a week earlier. However, fewer people applied for longer-term benefits in Arkansas (-14%), Alabama (-12%), and West Virginia (-6%) 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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