The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits rose in the first week of September. Specifically, unadjusted new jobless claims totaled 857,148 in the week ending September 5, an increase of 20,140 (2.4%) from the previous week. However, the number of weekly claims has come down substantially from late March and April. It was the sixth straight week in which unadjusted claims have totaled below 1 million. Meanwhile, according to another important indicator, payrolls increased more than expected. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 1.4 million in August and unemployment rate dropped by 1.8% to 8.4%, well below expectations.
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-two states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending September 5. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Kentucky (-45%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Michigan (-30%) and Wyoming (-22%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in Louisiana, Virginia and North Dakota. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 44% in Louisiana; 36% in Virginia; and 29% in North Dakota.
Moreover, the current release provides information about people filing new and total Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Among 47 states, 15 million people received benefits in the week ending August 22 using the federal government’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Nearly 1 million more people claimed to receive PUA benefits compared to a week earlier. California, New York and Michigan had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 37% of the labor force in California received PUA benefits in the week ending August 22 followed by New York (16%) and Michigan (15%).
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.