Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Tracking Jobless Claims by State

According to today’s release from the Labor Department, the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits shot to a record of more than 3 million last week. Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 3.28 million in the latest week (ending March 21) from a revised 282,000 the previous week. The previous high was 695,000 in October of 1982. This surge in initial claims confirms the concerns about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

The National Association of REALTORS® will closely monitor the weekly claims for unemployment insurance provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since this data is also released for each state, we will 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.

According to the release, the number of advance1 claims increased in every single state across the country. There was a sharp rise in unadjusted advance claims for Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey state. Specifically, the number of advance claims increased by 363,469 claims in Pennsylvania; 180,738 claims in Ohio; and 145,987 claims in New Jersey.  However, taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s advance claims with the initial claims of the previous week, layoffs in New Hampshire increased 34 times as much as the previous week’s layoffs.

The good news is that the bill with the coronavirus package is expected to become a law in the next few days. This is the largest stimulus in the entire U.S., and almost all the households across the country will receive aid. For instance, more than 91% of the taxpayers in Pennsylvania will receive a check of $1,200 or less. Nearly 90% of the taxpayers are also eligible for this aid in Ohio and New Jersey.

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 in the last year.  


1 Advance claims are reported by the state liable for paying the unemployment compensation, whereas previous weeks' reported claims reflect claimants by state of residence. In addition, claims reported as "workshare equivalent" in the previous week are added to the advance claims as a proxy for the current week's "workshare equivalent" activity.

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