Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

New Unemployment Claims Decreased to Their Lowest Level Since the Beginning of the Pandemic

Tracking jobless claims by state: week ending September 12

The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits dropped last week. Specifically, unadjusted new jobless claims totaled 790,021 in the week ending September 12, a decrease of nearly 9% from the previous week. Compared to late March, the number of weekly claims has come down substantially stabilizing below 1 million for the seventh straight week. Meanwhile, according to another important indicator, payrolls increased more than expected. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 1.4 million in August and the unemployment rate dropped by 1.8% to 8.4%, well below expectations.

The National Association of REALTORS® closely monitors 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.

Forty states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending September 12. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, South Dakota (-41%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Louisiana (-38%) and Oklahoma (-28%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in Nevada, Indiana, and Maine. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 32% in Nevada; 23% in Indiana; 20% in Maine.

Moreover, the current release provides information about people filing new and total Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Among 49 states, 14 million people received benefits in the week ending August 29 using the federal government’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Nearly 190,000 fewer people claimed to receive PUA benefits compared to a week earlier. California, Hawaii, and Michigan had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 34% of the labor force in California received PUA benefits in the week ending August 29 followed by Hawaii (16%) and Michigan (16%).

The map below shows the percentage change of layoffs for each state. Click on a state to see how many layoffs occurred every week within the last year.