Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Lowest Level of Layoffs Since the Pandemic Started; 1.2 Million New Unemployment Claims

Tracking Jobless claims by state: week ending August 1

Layoffs fell to 1.2 million last week. This is a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week's revised level while hiring is picking up. That’s the lowest level of layoffs since the pandemic started. Cumulatively, from the start of the lockdown in mid-March to the latest week, there have been 55.3 million Americans who have been laid off. However, there were far fewer, 16 million, continuing to receive unemployment checks in the latest week, implying that even with new layoffs there are job creations and people are coming off of unemployment.

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.

Every single state except Rhode Island reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending August 1. That is a very promising indicator of the recovery of the job market. Florida, Virginia, and California were the states with the highest decline in new unemployment claims compared to the previous week. The number of new claims dropped by 17,507 in Florida; 16,976 in Virginia; 16,123 in California.

Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, New Jersey (-44%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Tennessee (-42%) and Virginia (-40%).

Moreover, the current release provides information about people filing for new and total Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Among 48 states, 13 million people received benefits in the week ending July 18 using the federal government’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Nearly 70,000 fewer people claimed to receive PUA benefits compared to a week earlier. Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania had the most people receiving PUA benefits.  Specifically, 22% of the labor force in Arizona received PUA benefits in the week ending July 18 followed by Michigan (20%) and Pennsylvania (19%).

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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