Economists' Outlook

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New Unemployment Claims Increased to 1.4 million Last Week However, People Receiving Unemployment Benefits Declined for Seventh Straight Week

Tracking jobless claims by state: week ending July 18

Layoffs are still happening, with 1.4 million new filers for unemployment insurance, an increase of 110,000 from the prior week. This seems to be because of the re-closing of business activity in some states (such as no indoor dining). Cumulatively, from the start of the lockdown in mid-March to the latest week, there have been 52.7 million Americans who have been laid off. However, there were far fewer, 16.2 million, people receiving unemployment checks in the latest week. Specifically, continued unemployment insurance claims, which are reported on a one-week lag, declined for a seventh straight week during the period ending July 11. Continued claims declined more than expected to below 17 million, implying that even with fresh 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.

Thirty-six states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending July 18. Florida, Texas, and Georgia were the states with the highest decline in new unemployment claims compared to the previous week. The number of new claims dropped by 27,421 in Florida; 18,695 in Texas; 18,171 in Georgia.

However, unadjusted advance claims increased in Virginia, California, and Louisiana. Specifically, the number of advance claims increased by 7,896 claims in Virginia; 7,759 in California; and 4,804 in Louisiana.

Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Maine (-54%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Nebraska (-50%) and South Dakota (-43%). In contrast, in Wyoming, layoffs increased 47% from the previous week followed by North Dakota (36%) and Nevada (28%).

Moreover, the current release provides information about people filing new and total Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Among 48 states, 13.2 million people received benefits in the week ending July 4 using the federal government’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Nearly 1.1 million fewer people claimed to receive PUA benefits compared to a week earlier. Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Maryland had the most people receiving PUA benefits relative to the labor force.  Specifically, 53% of the labor force in Pennsylvania received PUA benefits in the week ending July 4 followed by Michigan (21%) and Maryland (16%).

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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