Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Unemployment Continues to Show Signs of Slowing

Tracking Jobless claims by state: week ending May 9

Nearly 23 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 21. However, 30 million people filed a new unemployment claim in the previous 6 weeks2. Thus, nearly 7 million first filers likely already found a job or 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.

Forty-six states reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending May 9. Actually, in 29 of these states, new claims have declined for four weeks in a row. Texas, California, and Oklahoma were the states with the highest decline in unemployment claims compared to the previous week. The number of new claims dropped by 102,263 in Texas; 102,229 in California; 61,091 in Oklahoma.

However, unadjusted advance claims increased in Connecticut, Florida, and Washington. New unemployment claims surged at a record high level in Connecticut to nearly 300,000 last week from 36,000 a week earlier. Specifically, the number of advance claims increased by 262,542 claims in Connecticut; 47,045 in Florida; and 13,994 in Washington.

Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Oklahoma (-65%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by West Virginia (-56%) and Missouri (-45%). In contrast, in Connecticut, layoffs increased 8 times those of 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.  

1 Continued claims are released with 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.