Economists' Outlook

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Tracking Jobless Claims by State: Week of April 2, 2020

According to today’s release from the Labor Department, the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits shot to a record of 6.6 million last week. Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 6.6 million in the latest week (ending March 28) from a revised 3.3 million the previous week. This marks the highest level of initial claims in the entire history of the data. 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.

Not all states reported increases in initial claims for the week ending March 28. In Nevada (-20,879), Rhode Island (-7,780), New Hampshire (-1,925) and Minnesota (-5,877) advance1 claims declined compared to previous week’s claims. However, there was a sharp rise in unadjusted advance claims for California, New York, and Michigan state. Specifically, the number of advance claims increased by 692,394 claims in California; 286,404 claims in New York; and 183,080 claims in Michigan.

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 Georgia increased 11 times more than the previous week’s layoffs. In Alabama and Mississippi, claims increased seven and six times those of the previous week, respectively.

The good news is that almost all the households across the country will receive aid from the Coronavirus package. For instance, nearly 87% of the taxpayers in California and New York will receive a check of $1,200 or less. More than 90% of the taxpayers are also eligible for this aid in Georgia (91%), Alabama (93%) and Mississippi (95%).

The map below shows 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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