Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Tracking Jobless Claims by State: Week Ending April 3, 2021

Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added nearly one million jobs in March. That was the fastest acceleration since August last year. In the meantime, job growth was revised up in both January and February. Although the economy is creating jobs, layoffs are still happening. The number of Americans applying for new jobless claims rose by 18,172 last week to 740,878. Filling backlogs and rising COVID cases in some states seem to be the main reasons for this increase of layoffs.

Nevertheless, continued claims, which measure the number of people receiving checks for regular unemployment benefits, dropped by nearly 68,000 to nearly 4.0 million.

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-five states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending April 3. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week's new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Alabama (-75%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Kansas (-54%) and New Hampshire (-45%). However, unadjusted new claims rose in New Mexico, South Carolina, and Delaware. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 109% in New Mexico; 58% in South Carolina; 48% in Delaware.

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 7.6 million people received benefits in the week ending March 20 using the federal government's PUA program. Since this data runs two weeks behind the claims estimates, expect fewer people to receive PUA in the coming weeks. New York, Massachusetts, and Hawaii had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 15% of the labor force in New York received PUA benefits in the week ending March 20, followed by Massachusetts (10%) and Hawaii (9%).

Finally, 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 24 additional weeks) with the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). Nearly 5.6 million Americans received PEUC benefits in the week ending March 20. Missouri, Texas, and Minnesota were the states with the highest increase of people receiving PEUC benefits compared to the previous week. However, fewer people applied for longer-term benefits in Wisconsin (-26%), Mississippi (-26%), and Iowa (-25%) 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.