Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Tracking Jobless Claims by State: Week Ending May 16

Nearly 25 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 91. However, 33.5 million people filed a new unemployment claim in the previous 7 weeks2. Thus, nearly 8 million first filers likely already found a job or they were rehired. Although millions of people lost their job due to the growing spread of the coronavirus, a surge of companies are hiring additional employees to accommodate increased demands. Most of these companies are included in the following industries: health care, food and grocery stores, delivery, and telecommunications. At the same time, millions of small businesses were able to benefit from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and rehire their furloughed employees.

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-nine states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending May 16. Actually, in 25 of these states, new claims have declined for four weeks in a row. Georgia, New Jersey, and Kentucky were the states with the highest decline in unemployment claims compared to the previous week. The number of new claims dropped by 66,224 in Georgia; 28,366 in New Jersey; 22,336 in Kentucky.

However, unadjusted advance claims increased in Washington, California, and New York. Specifically, the number of advance claims increased by 34,397 claims in Washington; 33,448 in California; and 27,102 in New York.

Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Maine (-92%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Wyoming (-42%) and New Jersey (-41%). In contrast, in Washington, layoffs increased 31% from the previous week.

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.


1Continued claims are released with a one-week lag.

2 During March 15 – April 28. First filers are required to wait for a week in order to file for unemployment benefits.

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