Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

New Unemployment Claims Rose Last Week by 4%

Tracking jobless claims by state: week ending September 18

The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits rose last week. Specifically, the unadjusted new jobless claims totaled 824,542 in the week ending September 18, an increase of nearly 4% from the previous week. However, compared to late March, the number of weekly claims has come down substantially stabilizing below 1 million for the eighth straight week. Meanwhile, the number of people who continue to receive unemployment checks declined to 12 million by 1.4%. Based on the data, employment is recovering but at a slower pace.

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.

Twenty-two states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending September 19. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Delaware (-27%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Michigan (-21%) and Missouri (-19%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in Oregon, Iowa, and South Dakota. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 52% in Oregon; 42% in Iowa; 34% in South Dakota.

Moreover, the current release provides information about people filing new and total Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Among 49 states, 12 million people received benefits in the week ending September 5 using the federal government’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Nearly 3 million fewer people claimed to receive PUA benefits compared to a week earlier. California, Kansas, and Michigan had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 18% of the labor force in California received PUA benefits in the week ending September 5 followed by Kansas (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.