Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Layoffs Remain Elevated as 860,000 People Seek Jobless Aid

Tracking jobless claims by state: week ending February 13, 2021

The number of Americans applying for new jobless claims rose slightly by 13,000 last week to 861,000. This figure is seasonally adjusted and is typically reported in the news. Nearly all economic data – from GDP and employment to consumer price inflation – are seasonally adjusted to account for regular events we can anticipate that have an effect on data around the same time each year.

However, on an unadjusted basis, new jobless claims fell slightly by 5,700 to 862,351 last week. In the meantime, continued claims, which measure the number of people receiving checks for regular unemployment benefits, also dropped below 5 million. As the COVID-19 vaccine is becoming more widely available to Americans, the job market is expected to gain momentum later this year.

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-seven states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending February 13. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Arizona (-54%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Arkansas (-38%) and Rhode Island (-35%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in Illinois, Idaho and Virginia. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 98% in Illinois; 69% in Idaho; 50% 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 7.7 million people received benefits in the week ending January 30 using the federal government’s PUA program. New York, Michigan and Ohio had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 14% of the labor force in New York received PUA benefits in the week ending January 30 followed by Michigan (12%) and Ohio (9%).

Finally, after exhausting the 26 weeks of regular benefits that states typically provide to their residents, people are able to apply for longer term unemployment benefits (up to 24 additional weeks) with the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). Nearly 4 million Americans received PEUC benefits in the week ending January 30. Illinois, Nebraska and Michigan were the states with the highest increase of people receiving PEUC benefits compared to the previous week. However, fewer people applied for longer-term benefits in California (-59%), Kansas (-32%) and Indiana (-29%) 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.