Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Weekly Jobless Claims Flattening

Tracking Jobless claims by state: week ending October 3

While the housing market has undoubtedly had a V-shaped recovery, the labor market hasn’t rebounded yet to its pre-pandemic levels. New claims have come down substantially from late March and April. However, new claims remain nearly four times higher than they were pre-pandemic.

The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits slightly increased last week. Specifically, the unadjusted new jobless claims totaled 804,307 in the week ending October 3, an increase of nearly 1% from the previous week. In the meantime, fewer people continued to receive unemployment checks. Their number dropped below 11 million by 1 million applicants. However, California isn’t processing claims from the last two weeks to reduce its backlog. Thus, we should expect significant swings in new claims for both California and nationwide next week.

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 October 3. Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, Oregon (-26%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Kentucky (-25%) and New Hampshire (-24%). In contrast, unadjusted advance claims increased in South Dakota, Florida, and Illinois. Particularly, compared to the previous week, initial claims increased by 73% in South Dakota; 37% in Florida; 29% in Illinois.

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 49 states, 11 million people received benefits in the week ending September 19 using the federal government’s PUA program. However, their number dropped by 4% (433,506 claimants) compared to a week earlier. Hawaii, Michigan, and New York had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 20% of the labor force in Hawaii received PUA benefits in the week ending September 19 followed by Michigan (16%) and New York (14%).

Finally, more people applied for extended unemployment benefits using the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). State benefits typically provide up to 26 weeks of aid, after which workers become eligible for certain extended benefits. One such program is the PEUC, which provides aid for another 13 weeks. Nearly 2 million people applied for PEUC in the week ending September 19.

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.