Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Raw Count of New Jobless Claims Dropped Slightly Last Week

The number of Americans applying for a new jobless claim rose again last week to 885,000, the highest weekly total since September. This figure is seasonally adjusted and is typically reported in the news. Nearly all economic data – from GDP and employment to consumer price inflation- are seasonally adjusted to account for regular events we can anticipate that have an effect on data around the same time each year.

However, on an unadjusted basis, new jobless claims slightly dropped to 935,138 last week after an unexpected sharp increase the previous week. In the meantime, continued claims, which measure the number of people receiving checks for regular unemployment benefits, fell to nearly 5.5 million since regular benefits ended for many unemployed people.

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-four states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending December 12. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Minnesota (-37%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Montana (-35%) and Oregon (-35%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in Delaware, Illinois, and Virginia. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 111% in Delaware; 33% in Illinois; 27% in Virginia.

Here are the top 10 states with the highest increase/decline in jobless claims compared to the previous week:

Moreover, the current release provides information about people filing new and total Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Specifically, the PUA is for the self-employed and others who do not qualify for the regular state unemployment programs. Among 50 states, nearly 9.2 million people received benefits in the week ending November 28 using the federal government’s PUA program. Indiana, Hawaii, and New York had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 19% of the labor force in Indiana received PUA benefits in the week ending November 28 followed by Hawaii (16%) and New York (12%).

Finally, more people applied for extended benefits last week. After exhausting the 26 weeks of regular benefits that typically the states provide to their residents, people are able to apply for longer-term unemployment benefits (up to 13 additional weeks) with the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). Nearly 270,000 more people applied a new claim for PEUC in the week ending November 28 compared to the previous week. Texas, Washington, and Hawaii were the states with the highest increase of people applying for PEUC within a week. In Texas, the number of new PEUC applicants rose 69% compared to a week earlier. However, fewer people applied for longer-term benefits in Alabama (-6%), Utah (-5%), and South Carolina (-4%) during the same period.

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.